New Russian Counter-Terrorism Law Goes into Effect

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) — A new law giving the authorities sweeping powers to combat terrorism comes into effect Friday after its publication in the Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper.

The new law includes a raft of measures for dealing with terrorist attacks, approves new powers for the secret services in prevention of terrorism, and authorizes the armed forces’ involvement in counter-terrorism operations.

It defines terrorism as an "ideology of violence" and the "practice of exerting pressure on decision making" by local and national authorities and international organizations by "intimidating the population and (or) other forms of illegal forcible action."

Terrorist activities under the new law include the organization, financing and carrying out of terrorist attacks, as well as formation of or involvement in illegal armed units, criminal groups or groups organized to carry out terrorist attacks. It also bans organizations whose "aims and actions are focused on propaganda, justification and support of terrorism."

The law says the armed forces can be used to "intercept planes that are used for terrorist acts or have been hijacked by terrorists," and to prevent terrorist acts on water. A decision to shoot down a hijacked plane can be taken only if it does not respond to orders transmitted by radio, refuses to follow landing orders, or when it poses a real threat to human lives or could cause an ecological disaster.

The new law assigns personal responsibility for a counter-terrorist operation to a person in charge, and prohibits any discussion of political demands put forward by terrorists during negotiations.

The state is mandated by the law to provide material compensation to individuals and organizations affected by terrorist attacks, and to ensure legal and social protection of those involved in the fight against terrorism.

The lower house of parliament passed the law on February 26, the upper house approved it on March 1, and President Vladimir Putin signed it on March 6, 2006.