Russian parliament approves anti-terror law

Parliament's lower house on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that would give President Vladimir Putin more freedom to send forces abroad to fight terrorism, and tighten restrictions on media coverage of anti-terror operations inside Russia. In a 429-0 vote, State Duma lawmakers approved amendments to a series of laws in a move they said was connected to Russia's ratification of a Council of Europe anti-terrorism convention. One change would remove a requirement that the president provide details about a planned operation when requesting permission from the upper parliament house, the Federation Council, to use military or security forces for anti-terrorist operations abroad. Existing law requires that he provide details on operations using forces outside Russia; Backers of the legislation said that could jeopardize operations by telegraphing information to terrorists. And according to the newspaper Kommersant, existing law mentions only armed forces - not special forces. Putin ordered special forces a week ago to hunt down and "destroy" the killers of four Russian Embassy staffers who were kidnapped and slain in Iraq, and the vote appeared aimed at giving such operations a legal stamp of approval.