Postcard from... Moscow
The political wind has blown in only one direction since Vladimir Putin, right, returned to the Kremlin in May, with laws on protests and NGOs being activity tightened in ways that have left Kremlin critics and rights activists feeling distinctly uneasy. The same is true of a new law, rushed through parliament in recent weeks, that broadens the definition of treason.
Under the new law, treason encompasses not just Russians who work for foreign intelligence services, but also those who pass state secrets to any foreign organisation. Combined with a new law which labels any NGO taking foreign grants as a "foreign agent", it looks like an attempt to scare Russians away from co-operating with international organisations and NGOs.
People who provide consultancy or "other assistance" to foreign organisations can be found guilty of treason, and obtaining state secrets, even without attempting to share them, can lead to four years in jail.
Rights activists, meeting Mr Putin at a sitting of his Human Rights Council earlier this week, pointed out to the President that the wording was vague and that the new law sent a dangerous message and was open to abuse by authorities. Mr Putin, perhaps surprisingly, agreed with the rights activists and promised that the bill would be given further attention before he signed it into law.
Then, yesterday, just two days after he made that promise, Mr Putin signed off on the new law and it is now in effect. The worry is that with Russia's notoriously pliable courts, the law could be twisted to punish political opponents rather than genuine traitors.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
North Korea executes Kim Jong Un's powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek for 'attempting to overthrow the state'
Australia incest case: Deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- 1 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 2 Italian court annuls prison sentence for elderly paedophile after 11-year-old victim tells investigators in Catanzaro that she loves him
- 3 Australia incest case: Deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 4 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- < Previous
- Next >
£40000 - £50000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading prov...
£47999 - £58001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A Top Tier practi...
£74000 - £92000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Financial Services Lawyer 2-...
attractive: Citifocus: Leading Asset Management house, wish to identify a temp...