Russian President Vladimir Putin has given the state intelligence service the authority to use weapons in crowds and fire at women and children under certain circumstances.
According to an amendment published on December 30 to the law governing the FSB's use of arms, intelligence services van now use weapons in crowds "to prevent acts of terrorism, rescue hostages, or repel attacks on public buildings."
The FSB also will have the right to shoot at women, the disabled, and minors "in case of armed resistance" and will be allowed to use nonlethal weapons against pregnant women.
The law also allows FSB agents to enter any premises in the country and take fingerprints at border checkpoints.
The law has alarmed human rights activists in Russia.
Members of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, which has an advisory role to the government, earlier appealed to Putin not to amend the law regulating the FSB's use of weapons.
The appeal was signed by Lyudmila Alexseyeva, the 85-year-old figurehead of Russia's human rights movement, and prominent rights activist Lev Ponomarev, among others.
Based on reporting by Rain.tv and Ekho Moskvy radio