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Russian Parliament Passes Controversial Security Bill


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting of Federal Security Service (FSB) officers and veterans in Moscow in December 2009.
The Russian lower house of parliament has passed a controversial bill expanding the powers of Russia's security agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB).

The bill would allow the FSB to issue official warnings to individuals whose actions are deemed to be creating the conditions for crime.

Individuals deemed to have hindered an FSB employee in his work can also be fined or held in detention for up to 15 days.

Officially the law is supposed to help the fight against terror and extremist tendencies.

But lawyers, civil rights activists, and members of the opposition have strongly criticized it saying it harks back to Soviet times and could be used to intimidate government opponents and stifle protests.

Yan Rachinsky, a member of the Memorial human-rights group, says the new legislation is full of "mystery" and "ambiguity."

A total of 354 deputies backed the bill in the State Duma vote and 96 voted against.

The proposed legislation now goes to the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament. In an open letter published on July 16, critics urged the chamber not to approve it.

President Dmitry Medvedev has defended the bill, saying it was introduced at his initiative.