Russia’s Putin Signs Controversial Amendments Into Law

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
July 7, 2016 Updated: July 7, 2016

MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed into law controversial counter-terrorism amendments that have sparked alarm among rights activists.

The amendments, rammed through the parliament on its last session before the summer break, include introducing prison sentences for failure to report a grave crime and doubling the number of crimes for which Russians as young as 14 can be prosecuted. Another forces telecommunications companies to store logs and data for months, a measure that threatens to eat all of the companies’ profits.

In an apparent concession to the disgruntled businesses, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that Putin also signed a decree instructing the government to oversee and if necessary modify the implementation of the amendments in the light of possible “financial risks.”

“The government will keep a close eye on how this law is implemented, and if some unpleasant consequences are discovered, the president will ask (the government) to take steps,” he said.

The amendment that rattled Russian business most will make it obligatory for telecommunications companies to store call logs for 12 months and call and message data for six months. Businesses have said this is 100,000 times as much data and they store already and will take more than $33 billion in investment to organize and run. The original bill would have had the companies store data for several years.

Stocks in Russia’s major cell phone companies MTS and Megafon fell 2.3 and 1 percent, respectively, following the Kremlin’s announcement.