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Russian Lawmakers Call For Stepped-Up Measures Against Terror

  • RFE/RL

A rare, joint session of the Russian legislature has called for tighter security measures and harsher punishments for terrorism-related activities as part of an effort to "confront the terrorist threat in Russia and beyond."

But State Duma and Federation Council lawmakers stopped short of urging Russian officials to lift the country's moratorium on the death penalty to handle such cases.

The nonbinding resolution passed at the extraordinary meeting, which included religious leaders, comes just days after Moscow confirmed that a Russian passenger jet that crashed in Sinai last month was brought down by a bomb. All 224 people on board died in the crash.

The meeting also follows coordinated gun and bomb attacks in Paris last week that left 129 people dead and hundreds more injured.

Militants from the radical group Islamic State (IS) have claimed responsibility for both attacks.

In Moscow, the lawmakers backed President Vladimir Putin's push for the creation of an international coalition to fight IS militants in war-torn Syria, urging "broad international cooperation with all countries" in combating terrorism.

"Terrorism should be declared a crime with no statute of limitations and should be ruthlessly prosecuted in all countries on the planet," the resolution said.

The United States and its allies have appeared reluctant to join forces with Russia, which has dismissed Western calls for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad -- a longtime ally of Russia -- and seemingly targeted U.S.-trained, anti-Assad groups in a month of air strikes in Syria that it claimed were aimed at Islamic State (IS) militants.

The Russian legislators said national and international laws on counterterrorism should be brought in line with each other, and advised countries to share more information on potential terrorist threats with each other.

Putin this week hailed a "revival" in relations between Britain and Russia, saying London had shared intelligence about the Sinai plane crash.

Britain, however, admitted earlier this month it was not in a position to communicate all its intelligence data on the crash to its partners.

Lawmakers proposed tougher penalties not only for terrorists but also for those aiding them.

"There are proposals to widen powers of special services, law-enforcement bodies in this area, to toughen criminal responsibility not only for terrorist activity, but also for its moral, financial, informational, and other support, for its instigation," Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko said. "I think that additional measures, including legislative ones, are definitely needed."

The document stressed the need to strengthen security measures during mass events and at public places, including public transportation.

It also called for "reliable" barriers to be established on Russia's borders to lower the risks of infiltration by terrorists.

A suggestion to reinstate capital punishment was made by Russia's Just Party leader Sergei Mironov during the November 20 parliamentary meeting.

The Kremlin, however, showed no sign of supporting the proposal.

The head of the presidential administration, Sergei Ivanov, said it would be "premature and inappropriate" for Russia to reintroduce capital punishment.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, described the death penalty as an "extremely complex issue" and said Russia would abide by its moratorium.

Russia's chief Mufti Ravil Gaynutdin, who attended the parliamentary gathering, exhorted Russians not to lump Muslims together with Islamic terrorists.

"Those who enslave people, who destroy cities, shed blood by killing people, those people are not Muslims," he told the assembly. "They are terrorists and they will be punished."

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