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Putin Signs Controversial Antiterrorism Law

President Vladimir Putin (file photo) (epa) March 6, 2006 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a controversial bill on countering terrorism.

The bill was drafted following a series of terrorist attacks in Russia in 2004. It has already been backed by both houses of the Russian parliament.

The bill authorizes the downing of hijacked planes if it appears terrorists intend to use them to attack key facilities or populated areas.

It also allows the military to attack ships seized by terrorists.

Firing on planes and ships would be permitted even if hostages are on board.

The antiterrorism law also allows law enforcement agencies to monitor telephone calls and take control of electronic communications in the area of a terrorist attack.

It also defines cases when the armed forces can be called upon to counter a terrorist attack.