Treason Bill Will Be Reworked

President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered his administration to rework a bill on treason to make sure that it does not curtail human rights, Kremlin deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov said Tuesday.

Human rights activists have warned that the bill, drafted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's Cabinet, could potentially allow authorities to brand any government critic as a traitor.

It was unclear whether Medvedev's orders represented a rift between him and Putin or simply meant that authorities had decided to back off on the bill.

Surkov said Medvedev had taken note of public criticism of the bill and ordered a review to prevent the measure from curtailing human rights, Interfax and Itar-Tass reported.

The legislation expands the definition of treason and would add nongovernmental organizations to the list of banned recipients of state secrets.

Surkov also said there were no plans to return to direct gubernatorial elections, which were scrapped in 2005 by the Putin's Kremlin, which said the measure was necessary to protect the country from terrorism. Direct gubernatorial elections are, in and of itself, not an indicator of freedom, Surkov said.

(AP, MT)