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Russia: Lawmakers Pass Restrictive Press Law

Moscow, 1 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russian lawmakers today passed a package of measures to combat terrorism, including amendments to the law on mass media. They amended the country's already restrictive press law to prohibit news outlets from distributing information that hinders counterterrorist operations, discloses tactics used or reveals information about those involved.

They also adopted a measure providing that the bodies of terrorists killed in Russia no longer will be returned to families for burial but instead will be interred in anonymous graves.

For more on the passage of this legislation, please see Russia: Press Faces New Restrictions Following Hostage Crisis.

In Geneva today the United Nations refugee agency expressed concern over checkpoints newly established outside four camps for displaced Chechens in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia. Russian soldiers now are permitting only people with camp-registration documents to travel freely.

Also today, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the Russian government has provided Danish authorities with proof that detained Chechen envoy Akhmed Zakaev is a terrorist and should be extradited.

Danish police detained Zakaev on 30 October on a Russian arrest warrant charging that he is implicated in last week's hostage crisis in Moscow.

Also, a top Russian official says he has asked the U.S. to add the group of Chechen rebel commander Shamil Basaev to its terrorism blacklist. Mikhail Margelov, the head of the Federation Council's (upper house of parliament) Foreign Relations Committee, said today he has sent the request in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The request comes after a Chechen website published what it claimed to be a statement from Basaev assuming responsibility for directing last week's hostage taking in Moscow. The statement said Basaev apologized to separatist Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov for not informing him of the planned theater raid.

The statement's authenticity could not be confirmed.

Sergei Yastrzhembskii, a top aide to President Vladimir Putin, repeated the Kremlin's assertion that Maskhadov was behind the attack and said Basaev was trying to protect him.

Meanwhile, the largest faction in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, has called on Russians to boycott Danish goods.

The parliamentary group Unified Russia appealed on television for "everyone who considers himself a Russian citizen," to avoid traveling to Denmark, buying Danish goods, or doing business with Danish firms.

The Danish government permitted a congress of Chechen separatists to meet this week in Copenhagen over Russian protests. Danish authorities have detained Chechen envoy Akhmed Zakaev, but have not decided whether to extradite him to Russia. Moscow considers Zakaev a terrorist.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said today that Danish-Russian relations have been damaged.