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Russia lower house approves strict new anti-terrorism legislation

The Russian State Duma [official website] voted in favor [press release, in Russian] of strict new anti-terrorism legislation on Friday. The bill [legislative materials, in Russian] increases prison time for setting up a terrorist entity from 15 to 20 years in prison, and individuals convicted for participation in a terrorist group could now spend up to 10 years in prison. Additionally, the new bill allows the government to collect damages [AP report] from the relatives of the perpetrator of a terrorist attack. According to lawmaker Nikolai Kovalyov, this preventative measure will create a deterrent effect for terrorists who would not want their families to face financial responsibility for their terrorist acts. The bill is expected to be approved [Pravo report, in Russian] in the Federation Council [official website, in Russian], and President Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian; JURIST news archive] is likely to sign the bill into law.

It is believed that Russia's strict new anti-terrorism legislation is an attempt to "head off potential security threats" [Reuters report] before the Winter Olympic Games, which Russia is hosting. The games are to take place in Sochi, a city near Chechnya [BBC backgrounder], a primarily Islamic Russian state that has repeatedly sought independence from Russia over the past century. Although Russia announced that the situation in Chechnya was stable enough to end its military operation there in 2009, there are still sporadic attacks by Chechen separatists, including a suicide bombing [Reuters report] attributed to a Cechen woman on Monday.

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