Parliament's lower house passes antiterror bill

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MOSCOW, February 22 (RIA Novosti) - The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, passed a counter-terrorism bill in its second reading Wednesday.

The draft got through in a 408-1 vote, with five abstentions.

The bill, providing a regulatory framework for measures to deal with terrorism and its aftermath, empowers Russian secret services to tap telephone conversations and control electronic communications in areas where counter-terrorism operations are carried out.

It also entitles air defense forces to shoot down hijacked planes to prevent attacks on strategic facilities or public places.

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