Monday. 17.06.2024

Russia has significantly expanded the powers of police with a controversial new law adopted by the State Duma on Wednesday.

The regulations extend the discretionary powers to search homes and break into cars.

Vehicles may be opened in the absence of their owners if there is "reason to believe" that a terrorist attack can be prevented or public safety can be guaranteed.

The bill had already been adopted in its first reading in December last year. Critics complained that it would give the police great power over citizens and their property - without setting clear conditions.

At the time, a formulation on the use of firearms, which has since been deleted, caused particular consternation: It provided for officers to be allowed to shoot during an arrest as soon as their counterpart took any "action" that could be interpreted as a threatened attack.

Warnings

Opposition figures and human rights activists have warned that arbitrary police power is being consolidated in Russia.

The Russian police, for example, are repeatedly criticized for using property searches to crack down on political dissidents.

With regard to the new police law, political scientist Fyodor Krasheninnikov expressed suspicion that it was also intended as a means to prevent opposition protests.

Despite criticism, Russia expands police powers by law