Russian parliament urges new anti-terror laws

The Russian parliament’s upper house wants new anti-terror legislation to include stricter penalties for people who aid terrorists and for officials whose negligence results in terrorist attacks, the Interfax news agency reported today.

The Russian parliament’s upper house wants new anti-terror legislation to include stricter penalties for people who aid terrorists and for officials whose negligence results in terrorist attacks, the Interfax news agency reported today.

The Kremlin-controlled Federation Council is expected to meet next week to consider draft anti-terror legislation, which comes in response to a series of dramatic attacks in Russia that have killed more than 430 people in the past month.

A resolution passed by the council yesterday calls for an audit of state anti-terror funding since 2002 and proposes adding a “life security” course in schools to teach children about protection against terrorism, Interfax said.

Other points could include improving the security of pesticides and agricultural chemicals, better compensation for people injured in terror attacks, and changes to laws governing police, prosecutors and Interior Ministry forces, reports said.

Meanwhile, Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, returns to session tomorrow to consider its own package of anti-terror measures. Tighter rules for registering foreigners’ addresses and their transit in and out of the country, as well as closer controls on car registrations are among the measures being considered.

Some lawmakers have also called for reinstating capital punishment, which is legally permitted but was halted by Russia after it joined the Council of Europe human rights organisation in 1997.

Meanwhile, the Federation Council’s investigative commission arrived in the capital of North Ossetia today, the southern Russian region where a terrifying school hostage seizure in Beslan took place at the start of the month. The standoff ended in a hail of gunfire and explosions that killed 338 people, nearly half of them children.

“The full picture regarding the responsibility of police, prosecutors and law enforcement workers is still unclear, but we have many questions already,” said Alexander Torshin, chairman of the commission made up of top lawmakers.

Investigators are looking into why the group of nearly 30 armed militants was so easily able to seize Beslan’s School No. 1 and whether it was aided by corrupt law enforcement officials.

On Monday, Sergei Mironov, the speaker of the Federation Council, said Russia must quickly carry out an inventory of all its weapons arsenals, saying that up to 72,000 arms are unaccounted for.

Some of the weapons used in the school seizure were stolen during a series of raids three months earlier on police posts in the neighbouring region of Ingushetia, authorities said.

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