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Anti-extremist Russia
July 24, 2007 15:22

Two weeks ago Russian State Duma accepted amendments to the last year's law on extremism. In the light of growing intolerance and developing fast nationalist movements the changes are mostly welcomed by the society and political parties, though some amendments are rather disputable.

The first new article of the bill concerns Mass Media’s right of expressing extremists’ opinion. Now newspapers and Internet sources are prohibited to distribute information about adjudicated extremist organizations without specifying their activity as illegal or that the organization has been closed down.

Another article makes it possible for law enforcement officers to tap telephone lines of suspects irrespective of their offence’s gravity. Living in the modern world means being ready for terrorist attacks, and all we have to give the special services new rights in order they would be able to protect us, but at the same time not many would like to have their telephone line tapped, especially as you can never know if you’re a suspect.

The new variant of the law gives a more detailed definition of what the extremism is: e.g. public excuse of terrorism or terrorist activities, obstruction of electoral rights and voting privilege along with violation of secrecy of election. Thus, it is prohibited to call to a ballot strike, since it may be taken for an obstruction of electoral rights, though many democratic states don’t consider such calls to be illegal.

Nevertheless, the deputies refused to include public excuse of terrorism and terrorist attacks in the document, as it can arouse a strong reaction of the society – too many people could be accused of giving objective information about protest actions and other events of that kind.

Besides, the law specifies the aggravating circumstances under which a crime could be carried out, among them: a crime committed due to political or ideological hatred, animosity against a social group and blood feud.

Presently mass distribution of extremist literature or goods is fraught with a punishment – max 15 days of administrative arrest and 3 thousand rubles (US$118) of fine for common citizens, 5 thousand rubles (US$196) for official bodies and up to 100 thousand rubles (US$3937) for entities. The list of extremist materials has already been published.

Some deputies argued against the amendments to be accepted, they believe the new law restricts rights and freedoms of Russian people and will let the special services tighten control over political parties’ activity. Moreover, they are afraid that the law may be used for abuse of powers.

The definition of an extremist in the new document is so fuzzy, that any person may be accused, even if he has nothing in common with terrorists or the political opposition and happened to be an occasional visitor at a meeting organized by a banned organization.

Anyway the law has been passed and the results will be seen in some months. If you don’t want to get into trouble, keep aloof from aggressive political movements and never join banned organizations.


Olga Pletneva

Tags: Russian laws     

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