|MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin signed a
measure into law Monday that allows the Russian military to
shoot down hijacked planes, the latest in a series of bills
passed following terrorist attacks.
The bill, which was approved earlier by both houses of
Russia's parliament, authorizes the shooting down of hijacked
planes if it appears possible that terrorists may intend to
attack key facilities or populated areas.
The bill also allows the military to attack ships being used
in a terrorist act. Shooting the planes or ships would be
permitted even if hostages were on board.
The legislation is the latest legal measure to be passed in
response to terrorist attacks in Russia in recent years. One of
the most sweeping measures pushed by the Kremlin in the wake of
the 2004 Beslan school hostage seizure radically changed how
local legislative elections are held across the country.
Militants demanding that Russian troops withdraw from the
nearby republic of Chechnyaseized the school in Beslan, and more
than half of the 331 people killed were children. Most died in
the climactic conclusion to the siege, when explosions tore
through the school and security forces stormed the building.
The anti-terrorism law passed Monday also permits
negotiations with terrorists who have taken hostages but bars
consideration of their political demands, and calls for armed
forces to use Russia-based weaponry against terrorists operating
outside its borders.
The bill also permits law-enforcement officials to monitor
telephone calls and take control of electronic communications in
the area of a terrorist attack.
Robert E. Donaldson. All rights reserved