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Russia Tightens Extremism Bill As Sochi Olympics Near

People walk past an information banner with the photos of terrorism suspects in a department store in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 18.
The Russian State Duma has passed a bill increasing penalties for those found guilty of extremism.

The document adopted on January 22 strengthens the maximum prison term for participating in extremist activities from two to four years.

The bill was passed two weeks before the opening of the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi, which is located close to the country's volatile North Caucasus region.

This week, Russian authorities identified four women -- so-called black widows -- whom they suspect of planning terrorist attacks in or near Sochi.

On January 22, national Olympic committees across Europe said they had received e-mail messages threatening their athletes.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told CNN, meanwhile, that security in Sochi is an issue but is no greater threat than at other Olympic Games.

Based on reporting by Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and CNN