Moscow, 27 June 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's lower house of parliament today approved legislation on extremism in the third and final hearing. Among other things, the legislation defines extremism as any action that resists the actions of authorities on both federal and local level, or tries to take over authority by force and other illegal means.
It identifies "extremist activity" as any steps taken by public or religious groups, as well as the media, which undermine the Russian Constitution and national security. It also allows the police to disband parties and political movements that have been identified as extremist in nature.
Human rights groups have criticized the bill as too vague, fearing that it will give law enforcement agencies the authority to crack down on opposition political parties and figures as well as genuine extremists. But the measure has been backed strongly by President Vladimir Putin.