Russia has taken a first step towards introducing stringent anti-terrorism laws which critics say could lead to an abuse of people’s rights.
The parliament has given initial support to a proposal which would allow “a state of terrorist danger” to be declared. The bill would give Russian authorities the right to impose a 60 day security clampdown if they suspect a terror attack is being planned. The draft was devised in the light of the Beslan school siege in September when 330 hostages were killed. But those opposed to the law fear it could be exploited by authoritiesto stifle any public expression of discontent. The draft allows for spot street checks, restriction of people’s movements, a ban on demonstrations and phone tapping. It also envisages a curb on press activities. Photographs and television footage could be censored and journalists reporting at the scene of attacks such as Beslan could be restricted.