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Oleg Orlov: "How will FSB officers use these additional powers?"

Source: (author), 07/06/10

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Oleg Orlov, chair of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, spoke to about attempts to change the legislative framework regulating the activities of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

“In recent years, we see developing in our country what is called the “fight against extremism.” Indeed, the authorities have finally paid attention to the threat posed by neo-Nazism. The liquidation of a number of groups that actively use violence, arrests and court sentences handed down to neo-Nazis – all this really is taking place.

Why did this happen now? Because the most radical of the groups have begun to declare that the use of terror is necessary not only against aliens, anti-fascists and human rights activists, but also against government officials.

As a result, the authorities have moved from moderate support for the radical nationalists to their partial suppression.

But it is equally important that, under the guise of combating extremism in Russia, a fight is also being waged against a wide range of organizations and individuals that are actively critical of government policies.

The “flexible” formulation of “anti-extremism” laws allows the authorities to apply them against whomsoever they wish: participants in the “Dissenters’ Marches”, bloggers who criticize the government or the police, human rights defenders, and so on.

As a result, new political prisoners are appearing in our country. The best example is Irek Murtazin.

From the text of the bill “On Amending the Federal Law ‘On the Federal Security Service’ and the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation” and, especially, from the accompanying explanatory note, it is clear that this is yet one more step towards further tightening so-called “anti-extremism law.”

How will FSB officers use these additional powers? I think that, first of all, they will use them to intimidate potential participants in those various protest rallies that are now gaining in strength – the rallies organized by “Strategy 31”, motorists, strikers, and others. And in addition to this, they will use them to suppress the media."

Oleg Orlov