[QODLink]
Europe
Russia boosts secret service powers
Dmitry Medvedev signs law that critics say could stifle civil rights.
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2010 11:58 GMT
Dmitry Medvedev has defended the new law, which boosts the powers of the FSB [Reuters]

Russia's president has signed a new law that will boost the powers of Russia's security services, in a move that critics say could be used to stifle protests and freedom of speech.

The law, signed by Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday, restores a Soviet-era practice that allows the Federal Security Service (FSB) to issue warnings or detain people suspected of preparing to commit crimes.

Rights groups say the bill raises doubts about Medvedev's commitment to promoting civil rights, and puts the agency, which was formed from the remains of the Soviet KGB, above the law.

Opposition groups also say the law is empowering an already extremely powerful FSB.

Medvedev has defended the law, saying earlier this month that its aim was to improve Russian legislation and had been drawn up on his personal orders.

"Every country has a right to fine-tune its legislation, including in respect to special services," he said.

The Kremlin has also said the law will help combat extremism and prevent illegal participation in anti-government activities such as protest rallies.

Under the 2000-2008 presidency of former KGB agent Vladimir Putin, the FSB dramatically increased its influence over Russian society.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.