Putin's proposed bill to broaden definition of 'high treason' sparks fury among activists

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 24, 2012 09:02 hrs

Russia's parliament has voted to widen the definition of 'high treason' and laws associated with it, a move critics say is a further attempt to stifle dissent in the country.

Under the proposed new law, high treason and espionage will include supporting "those seeking to damage Russia's security".

Current law describes high treason as espionage or other assistance to a foreign state damaging Russia's external security, the BBC reports.

According to the report, the bill, which could lead those illegally obtaining secret state information face an extended prison sentence, expands that definition to include moves against Russia's "constitutional order, sovereignty and territorial and state integrity".

In addition, the proposal adds multinational organisations to a list of groups that could benefit from state secrets, the report said.

The legislation, which was voted through the Duma 375 votes to two, will then need to be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

The opposition Just Russia party said such a wide definition of high treason meant "almost any Russian citizen with any contacts with any foreigner" could be accused of betraying the state, the report added. (ANI)

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