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April 1, 2004 by AK

More on the Duma’s abuse of mandate

Yesterday, the Russian Duma passed an amendment to the Criminal Code that allowed investigators to detain individuals suspected of complicity in acts of terrorism for a month without a formal indictment. Normally, they have to bring charges within three days of a suspect’s arrest. It goes without saying that the new law, if passed by the upper chamber and signed by Putin (which is very likely to happen), will let the police arrest pretty much anyone linked, if tenuously, to any serious crime, think up a terrorism connection, use the 30 day period to extract a confession, then drop the terrorism link and use the confession at a regular trial. Amendments like this would be suspicious even in well-run countries; and this is Russia.

The Duma deputy who proudly presented the terrorism amendment to his fellow MPs was none other than Pavel Krasheninnikov, until very recently a member of the liberal Union of the Right Forces, and once a respected Justice Minister (i.e. the most senior government official overseeing courts, jails and penitentiary institutions). It’s amazing how fast people change.

The latest news is that Krasheninnikov is asking his colleagues to backpedal on the rallies law so that it can withstand constitutional scrutiny. Qui vivra, verra.


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