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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gryzlov Steals Terror Page From U.S.

Stealing a page from the United States in its fight against terrorism, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov said Wednesday that the law should be changed to allow law enforcement officials to detain terror suspects for up to 30 days without charges being filed.

Gryzlov, speaking days after a double suicide bombing in Moscow killed 14 people, told a meeting of senior police officials from the Central Federal District that he would send the necessary amendment to the Criminal Procedural Code to the State Duma when it reconvenes in September.

Civil liberties advocates warned that such an amendment would open the door to gross human rights abuses -- echoing concerns expressed by their U.S. counterparts when Washington passed the USA Patriot Act after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"Any attempt to toughen the Criminal Procedural Code in order to make progress in an investigation will most certainly lead to the abuse of suspects' rights without any boundaries or controls," said Human Rights Watch's representative in Russia, Anna Neistat.

A recent study by HRW found that most human rights violations -- physical abuse and coerced confessions -- take place shortly after a suspect's detention, when he has restricted access to a lawyer, Neistat said.

Under the Criminal Procedural Code, which went into force last July, a suspect can be detained for only 48 hours without being charged. The detention can be extended by three days with a court ruling.

"I do not see what an extra 25 days will give investigators other than time to force confessions from the suspects," said Valentin Gefter of the Human Rights Institute.

He cautioned that investigators might end up questioning other suspects at length, not just those suspected of terrorism.

The USA Patriot Act allows U.S. law enforcement officials to detain terror suspects indefinitely and grants them sweeping powers, including the use of wiretaps, electronic and computer eavesdropping and searches.

They also have the authority to access a wide range of financial and other information in their investigations.

The U.S. law expires in October 2005.

Gryzlov did not say whether his proposal was a temporary measure.

He said terrorist attacks are directly connected with the activities of organized crime and that the police do not have adequate resources to fight terrorism.

He suggested that a special investigator be assigned to each known criminal group who would be personally responsible for keeping tabs on its activities.

The police are investigating criminal groups that control 20 to 50 businesses and either have representatives on the companies' boards or are directly receiving part of the companies' profits.

According to Interior Ministry statistics, criminal groups have committed 89 crimes so far this year, including 43 in the Central Federal District, which encompasses Moscow and the Moscow region. Police say they have solved 48 of the crimes nationwide and 16 in the Central Federal District.

Gryzlov also said Wednesday that investigators have fully reconstructed the crime scene at the Tushino airfield, where the two female suicide bombers struck Saturday. He said investigators have preliminary information about the parties who might be behind the deadly blasts.

He ordered the police to step up document checks to find people staying in cities and towns around the country without proper registration permits.

"I think the tactic of pinpointing citizens who have no residence registration is a very important one," Gryzlov said in televised remarks.

"Police have been specifically ordered to look after this particular category of citizens with heightened scrutiny."

Interfax reported that investigators have put together a composite sketch of the second suicide bomber. The first bomber, Zalikhan Elikhadzhiyeva, 20, was identified by a passport found near her body.