MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti) – Sweeping anti-terrorism legislation presented to Russia’s parliament this week is expected to undergo a first reading in February, but a government-linked rights watchdog called Thursday for a comprehensive review to ensure it does not violate any constitutional principles.
Bills presented Wednesday to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, include measures to broaden the power of law enforcement bodies to stop and search persons and vehicles and would stiffen penalties for those convicted of carrying out, funding or assisting acts of terrorism.
Other proposed legislation will criminalize such acts as destabilizing state bodies. The new laws would require Internet sites where users can share content, including blogs and forums, to register with officials and to store user-generated content for six months.
Mikhail Fedotov, who heads the Kremlin’s Presidential Human Rights Council, on Thursday urged a thorough review to ensure they respected basic freedoms.
“The preparation of such examinations is one of the functions of the council, but it will, of course, take time,” he said.
Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin said the legislation could be considered by deputies next month, however, just as the Winter Olympics in Sochi are scheduled to get underway.
Market analysts say one proposal to introduce new restrictions on electronic payments could adversely hit companies specializing in providing such services. Payments from anonymous online wallets would be capped at $30 per transaction and $450 per month.
One leading Russian provider of Visa-linked electronic payments, Qiwi, saw millions of dollars of value destroyed in New York trading Wednesday, when it registered a 17 percent decline on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
Russia’s Sberbank cautioned against buying Qiwi stock on Thursday and predicted a “severe deterioration in the financials” of the company if the anti-terrorism bills were passed.
Two terrorist bombing attacks in as many days killed more than 30 people in the city of Volgograd just before the New Year’s holidays. The city is a gateway between Russia’s North Caucasus, where insurgent attacks remain frequent, and the rest of the country.
There has been widespread concern for the security of the Sochi Winter Olympics, slated to open February 7, following the attacks.