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Ashton Expresses Concern Over New Russian Law On Treason

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is expressing concern over the Russian Duma's approval this week of a proposed law broadening the definition of treason.

Ashton's office said in a statement that "the new law would expand the scope for prosecution and reduce the burden of proof for charges of treason and espionage."

The statement also said the new law follows a number of recent legislative and judicial developments in Russia that, taken together, "would limit the space for civil society development, and increase the scope for intimidation."

The Russian lower house's passage of the bill on October 23 is certain to be followed by approval from the upper house of parliament.

It will then go to President Vladimir Putin to be signed into law.

Based on reporting by AFP and ITAR-TASS