MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's Kremlin-controlled parliament has tentatively approved a new bill expanding the definition of high treason, seen by some as part of the Kremlin's crackdown on dissent.
The current law equates high treason to espionage, while the new bill drafted by the main KGB successor agency offers a looser interpretation of treason to include activities such as financial or consultative assistance to a foreign state or an organization.
And while the current law describes high treason as activities harming Russia's external security, the new legislation widens it to include moves against Russia's constitutional order, sovereignty and territorial integrity. It keeps the punishment of up to 20 years for treason.
Veteran Russian rights activist Lev Ponomaryov told Interfax news agency that the government may use the new bill to punish dissenters.