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Russian Duma Passes Contentious Antiterror Bill

Russia's lower house of parliament has passed controversial antiterrorism legislation that human rights activists have denounced as unconstitutional.

The State Duma passed the legislation in a second and third reading on June 24. To become law, it must now be approved by the upper house of the Russian parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin.

The bill includes provisions stiffening punishment for extremism and terrorism, increasing the government's surveillance capabilities, and holding individuals criminally responsible if they fail to report others to authorities in connection with certain crimes.

The bill has been championed by Putin's ruling United Russia party and was passed in the Duma's final session before parliamentary elections in September.

Liberal opposition activists and rights watchdogs say the legislation constitutes a massive state encroachment on privacy and civil liberties.

Lawmakers at the last second dropped a controversial proposed mechanism to strip certain Russians of their citizenship if they break terrorism or extremism laws, or serve in foreign armies, police forces, or international organizations in which Russia is not represented.

With reporting by RIA Novosti and
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