Circling the Lion's Den

Medvedev signed a law which allow the FSB to issue warnings to individuals whose actions are deemed to be creating the conditions for crime

On July 29, 2010  Dmitry Medvedev signed into a law a bill expanding the powers of the FSB. The bill, criticised by rights groups, would allow the Federal Security Service (FSB) to issue official warnings to individuals whose actions are deemed to be creating the conditions for crime.

Rights groups say the bill would essentially put the special service above the law and harks back to Soviet times when the much-feared FSB predecessor KGB used warnings to persecute dissidents.

The bill had already sailed trhough the lower and upper houses of parliament.

The opposition says the FSB security service is already extremely powerful and empowering it further would contravene Medvedev's pledge to liberalise Russia. In response to protests from human rights activists, lawmakers earlier removed an amendment allowing the FSB to summon people to their offices to hand out the warnings and also publish their warnings in the media.

Medvedev earlier this month launched a staunch defence of the law, saying 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. "And what is happening today -- I would like you to know that -- has been done on my direct instructions."

"The legal ideas of Russian lawmakers have returned to the old Soviet way," the Memorial rights group said in a statement earlier this month.

Sources:

  • AFP 29.07.2010 "Medvedev signs law to expand ex-KGB powers"