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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Extremist Bill Set by Cabinet

The Cabinet on Thursday approved a draft bill that would outlaw statements that fuel ethnic strife or call for the violent overthrow of the government.

The bill comes following a series of anti-Semitic remarks by Communist Party members that caused an uproar in Russia and abroad.

Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov told the Cabinet that anti-Semitic statements, as well those directed at other ethnic groups, must "not be only condemned by society, but be punishable by law."

"Political extremism must be absolutely excluded from political life, as it undermines society," he said.

Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov said the new bill seeks to make political parties responsible for members who make extremist statements. A party must either disavow such statements made by members, or face an official ban.

Last fall, the Communist Party was slow to condemn anti-Semitic statements by Albert Makashov, a member of parliament. It did so only grudgingly, following a wave of protests at home and abroad. A few weeks later, another Communist lawmaker made similar statements.

The current Russian law is vague on the issue, and the authorities have taken no legal action against the Communists.

The new bill must be approved by President Boris Yeltsin before being sent to parliament. The Communist-dominated lower house, the State Duma, is expected to oppose the bill in its current form.

Yeltsin's spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin said Thursday that the president plans to chair a session of his Security Council later this month to consider ways to battle political extremism.

"Regrettably, this issue remains on the agenda," Yakushkin said on Ekho Moskvy radio. "We should free our society from extremism."