Russia's Putin signs law extending definition of treason

MOSCOW Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:52pm IST

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the development of the Russian pensionary system at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, November 14, 2012. REUTERS/Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Pool

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the development of the Russian pensionary system at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, November 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Pool

Related Topics

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law broadening the definition of treason which opponents say could be used to smother dissent and put almost anyone who has contact with foreigners at risk.

The law allows Russians representing international organisations to be charged with treason, as well as those working for foreign intelligence. It took effect on Wednesday when it was published in the official gazette, despite a promise by Putin on Monday that he would review it.

Political opponents and rights activists say the legislation is the latest in a series of laws intended to crack down on the opposition and reduce foreign influence since he returned to the Kremlin in May for a six-year third term.

"Citizens recruited by international organisations acting against the country's interests will also be considered traitors", the official gazette, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, said in a commentary on its website.

The maximum sentence for high treason remains 20 years.

At a meeting of his human rights council on Monday, Putin listened to a retired Constitutional Court judge's concerns about the legislation, which she said did not require authorities to prove a suspect damaged state security.

Putin indicated at the meeting that he would move cautiously and that the legislation had been scrutinised closely as it passed through parliament. But he also said "nonetheless, I am ready to return to this again, to look more attentively."

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the president had signed the legislation on Tuesday although the Kremlin had not made a formal announcement.

Russian officials have said the law is needed to help prevent foreign governments using organisations in Russia to gather state secrets. (Reporting by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya, Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

FILED UNDER:

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Economic Pulse

Economic Pulse

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.  Full Article 

PM's Moves

PM's Moves

Modi moves in to speed up $300 billion stuck projects.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

Cook Out

Cook Out

Cook out, Morgan in as England ODI captain - reports.  Full Article 

Sony Cyberattack

Sony Cyberattack

Obama vows U.S. response to North Korea over Sony cyberattack.  Full Article 

Obama's Message

Obama's Message

Obama's year-end message to Americans: I'm not a lame duck.  Pictures 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage