Human right activists have condemned the final draft of a set of several anti-terrorist laws proposed by State Duma member Irina Yarovaya as being detrimental to freedom of speech and privacy.
The introduction of several of these measures, which have been criticised by human right activists, has been tied to the tragedy of Metrojet Flight 9268, the Russian passenger jet that was bombed in October over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, killing all 224 people aboard. In respect to the weakening of the constitutional rights of citizens, they are similar to the Patriot Act introduced in the United States post 9/11.
For instance, "the failure to report a crime" will itself become a criminal offence punishable by up to a year in jail and criminal prosecution of adolescents over 14 is set to rise under 10 new criminal articles making them susceptible to anti-terror arrests, according to a report by Russian media organisation Meduza.
The threat of surveillance also looms large as cellular and internet providers are required to store all communications and data for six months along with Metadata records for three years. The law also makes it legally binding for them to cooperate with security services such as the Federal Security Service to decipher any encrypted messages. The fine for refusing to cooperate can be as high as a million roubles (more than $15,000).
The bill, which also tightens religious regulation, bans religious conversions, preaching and praying outside officially recognised religious institutions.
"(The bill is) a set of legislative amendments that severely undermine freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and the right to privacy." Russian programme director for Human Rights Watch, Tanya Lokshina, told New York Times.
For the draft to become law, it has to be approved by the Federation Council and then signed by President Vladimir V. Putin.