Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, August 02, 2010

Preventive arrest

Sometimes steps forward; sometimes steps back

Russia to introduce 'draconian' Minority Report-style law
Russian citizens can be issued official warnings about crimes that they have not yet committed under powers granted to the security services today.

President Dmitry Medvedev signed off on a new law giving the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB, the right to caution people suspected of preparing acts of extremism, or to jail them for obstructing the agency's work.

The powers appear similar to those enjoyed by Precrime, the police unit in the 2002 Hollywood film Minority Report. "This is a draconian law reminiscent of our repressive past," said Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the Solidarity opposition movement.

Rights activists had hoped Medvedev would rein in the security services, after his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, a former KGB colonel, stuffed his administration with hawkish veterans. The Kremlin's tough stance comes against the backdrop of a disparate but emergent civil movement protesting against corruption and authoritarian government…

There have been signs of democratisation under Medvedev, while Putin, whom he replaced two years ago, has continued to promote a hardline image from his post as prime minister…

"Medvedev may smile more than Putin but the face of power hasn't changed," said Eduard Limonov, an opposition politician who plans to run for president in 2012. "The Kremlin is still terrified there will be an Orange Revolution in Russia if people are allowed to gather on the streets."…

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