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    Bill to close down 'extremist' websites pulled from Russia's Duma

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    A draft law to toughen control over electronic media, including in the Internet, as part of efforts against extremism has been withdrawn from Russia's lower house of parliament for further discussion.

    MOSCOW, December 9 (RIA Novosti) - A draft law to toughen control over electronic media, including in the Internet, as part of efforts against extremism has been withdrawn from Russia's lower house of parliament for further discussion.

    The Russian Vedomosti daily suggested on Monday that it may have been pulled at the request of the government.

    In November, during his state-of-the-nation address, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged a commitment to free speech, saying that, "No government officials will be able to hamper discussions in the Internet."

    The bill proposed by the dominant, Kremlin-backed United Russia party allows the closure of websites for publishing "for a second time" materials promoting extremism. It would also order Internet providers to block access to the website.

    Alexei Rozuvan, a member of the State Duma's security committee and a co-author of the bill, told the paper agreements on court procedures concerning closures needed more consideration.

    Some government officials were earlier reported to have spoken out against censorship of the media, especially in the Internet.

    Medvedev's predecessor, Vladimir Putin, was criticized by Western powers and rights groups in Russia for bringing the country's main media outlets under state control and denying the opposition equal access to the media.

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