Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, May 03, 2010

A super KGB?

Is Russia headed back to Soviet times in another way?

Russian Plan to Bolster Security Agency Evokes K.G.B.’s Powers
Russian lawmakers are considering extending new powers to the F.S.B., the successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B., allowing its officers to summon citizens and issue verbal or written warnings that their activities are “unacceptable” and leading toward a crime, even if no violation has occurred.

The government-backed proposal, which was submitted Saturday to the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament, would also impose fines or 15-day jail terms on citizens who did not comply with demands made by the F.S.B., or Federal Security Service. Russia already imposes similar sanctions on citizens who disobey the police or prison officials...

[T]he proposals could strengthen the agency’s ability to control information or activities considered “extremist,” a term that has been applied to religious and political groups as well as to journalists…

Opposition lawmakers and journalists responded with alarm when parts of the bill appeared in Russian newspapers. The proposal recalls a practice of “official warning” that the K.G.B. frequently employed against dissidents, but that faded away during the Soviet collapse…

Gennadi V. Gudkov, who served in the K.G.B. and now sits on the State Duma’s Security Committee, said he expected Parliament to approve the bill, which has the support of the Russian government…

The F.S.B. has been resurgent over the past decade, and people who served in the agency were swept into ministries and state-run corporations when Vladimir V. Putin, a former colonel in the K.G.B., became president…

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