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Russian legislation to label critics of government as traitors

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Yet another step backwards for Russia. As the oil money is slashed it won't be a surprise to see more repressive actions by the government.

Rights activists Wednesday denounced new legislation backed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that would allow Russian authorities to label any government critic a traitor, calling it a chilling throwback to times of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

The bill, which is expected to become law, would expand the definition of treason to include damaging Russia's constitutional order, sovereignty or territorial integrity. That, activists said, would essentially let authorities interpret any act against the state as treason — a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Government supporters and Kremlin-allied lawmakers said the bill will tighten up current law. Supporters say prosecutors often have trouble gaining convictions because of ambiguities in the definition of state treason.

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