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Putin signs Russia anti-terror bill authorizing phone taps, downing of planes

[JURIST] Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website, English version] Monday signed into law new anti-terrorism legislation giving the Russian police and military broad authority to tap telephone conversations and control electronic communications in the vicinity of counter-terror operations, shoot down hijacked planes threatening public places or strategic facilities, and deal with the aftermath of terrorist attacks. The legislation passed the Russian Duma [JURIST report] almost unanimously late last month and was approved by Russia's upper house, the Federation Council, on March 1. While al Qaeda terrorism is not a major problem in the country, Russia has been shaken by bombings and hostage-takings by supporters of Chechen independence, most recently including the 2004 Beslan siege [JURIST report] in which hundreds of children were killed when authorities stormed a school.

The "shoot down" provision had been opposed by members of the Russian civil aviation pilots authority [JURIST report], but they apparently failed in their last-minute efforts to get the term removed. Russian state news agency RIA Novosti has local coverage. AP has more.

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