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Duma backs more security service powers

Duma backs more security service powers
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Tackling terrorism or cracking down on human rights?

Russia’s lower house of parliament has backed a government-proposed bill to extend the powers of the country’s main intelligence agency.

Under the legislation, which was passed comfortably, the FSB can issue warnings to anyone whose actions it deems could lead to a crime.

Rejecting any suggestion the measure could be abused, the Duma’s deputy speaker Lioubov Sliska stressed that FSB officials themselves are subject to the law, too, as Russian citizens.

But her reassurances are unlikely to convince demonstrators from the liberal Yabloko party who protested outside parliament. Security forces swiftly intervened.

Supporters maintain the law will help fight terrorism and extremism. But rights activists claim it could be used to intimidate opponents of the government. They fear the FSB is being given powers like those once wielded by its Soviet-era predecessor, the KGB.