MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian lawmakers gave their
final backing on Thursday to a Kremlin-sponsored bill aiming to
clamp down on extremist activity, despite liberal concerns that
the law lacked safeguards to prevent abuses.
The bill outlaws the spread of propaganda based on racial or
national superiority, the use of Nazi symbols, the creation of
armed groups and calls for the violent overthrow of the constitutional
Right-wing "skinhead" groups regularly attack Moscow
markets operated by traders from the Caucasus region on Russia's
southern fringe. In April dozens of foreign embassies received
xenophobic threats on the eve of Adolf Hitler's birthday.
Earlier this month, in Moscow's worst violence in years, hundreds
of soccer fans rampaged through the city after Russia lost to
Japan in the World Cup finals, killing one schoolboy.
"Now Russia is on a par with other civilized countries,
with tough anti-extremism legislation," Pavel Krasheninnikov,
who heads the legislative committee of the State Duma, or lower
house, told deputies.
The third reading of the bill, rushed through the 450-seat Duma
in less than a month, was backed by 275 deputies with 145 votes
It must now be approved by the Federation Council upper house
before going to President Vladimir Putin, the prime mover behind
the measure, for signature into law.
During the bill's second reading the Communist Party and the
liberal Yabloko Party argued its focus on banning "ideological,
political, racial, national or religious hatred or differences"
was too sweeping and could be open to abuse.