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Russian Activists Resume Protest Of Bill Enhancing FSB Powers

MOSCOW -- Opposition activists have again gathered outside Russia's State Duma to collect signatures in protest against a bill that would increase the powers of the Federal Security Service (FSB), RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Some 50 people -- including two Duma members -- have signed the petition, which is being organized by the opposition Yabloko party.

Police made no attempt to disrupt today's action, unlike the last attempt to collect signatures on June 30, when police arrested two protesters at the same location.

Under the proposed new bill that is currently in the Duma, the FSB would be able to fine or detain people for "obstructing FSB investigations."

Sergei Mitrokhin, the chairman of Yabloko's Moscow branch, explained that under the new law, “all citizens of Russia suddenly become suspects, or even an 'extremist' that can be treated quite cruelly. They can be called in for questioning, or [an FSB agent] can simply go up to them on the street and give them a 'warning.' If the citizen doesn't heed the warning they can spend 15 days in prison or pay a really big fine."

Duma deputies have approved the first reading of the legislation.