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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Moscow, 6 July (AKI) - Russia's parliament unanimously backed amendments to its counter-terrorism law that will allow President Vladimir Putin to dispatch special military units abroad, although he will now need to notify lawmakers of any such individual operation, Interfax news agency reported. The bill was adopted a week after Putin announced Russian secret agents would seek out and destroy the killers of four Russian diplomats in Iraq. Moscow also offered a 10 million dollar reward for information leading to the capture of the militants.

The new anti-terrorism law gives the president the right to send the army as well as special forces abroad to deal with "terrorist activities" against the Russian Federation or Russian citizens. For reasons of national security, the unit size, location and timing of the special anti-terror unit, could be kept secret and tough restrictions may be imposed on media coverage of such counter-terror operations.

Russia was shocked by the brutal killings of its diplomats and called on the coalition forces occupying Iraq to provide better security for diplomatic mission staff working there. On 28 June, Russia's upper house, the State Duma, passed a statement saying that the occupying countries were to be blamed for the diplomat killings.

Al-Qaeda linked insurgents announced on 26 June they had executed their four Russian captives after Moscow failed to heed a 48-hour ultimatum to pull out of Chechnya and free Muslim prisoners. Muslim separatists in Muslim-majority Chechnya have been fighting a guerrilla war against the Russian authorities since the early 1990s.
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