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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

State Duma Adds Teeth to Bill on Investigations

A State Duma committee on Thursday beefed up a bill on parliamentary investigations to allow lawmakers to carry out their own probes into terrorist attacks independently of the security services.

The Constitution and State Affairs Committee approved a series of amendments to the bill, which was widely criticized as toothless and decorative when it passed in a first reading last month.

The bill is expected to pass in a second reading next week, Interfax reported.

The amendments would allow lawmakers from the Duma and the Federation Council to investigate events related to "threats to the foundations of constitutional order," a phrase seen as encompassing terrorist attacks. Under the original bill, lawmakers would have been restricted to investigating violations of constitutional rights and freedoms, and large-scale catastrophes.

Under the amendments, they would also be able to demand the dismissal of officials who refuse to testify, or lie to them, Interfax reported Thursday.

The bill would also permit lawmakers to continue an investigation after law enforcement agencies begin their own investigation in the same case -- a change from the initial version of the bill, which stipulated that parliamentary investigations must be closed when a criminal investigation begins.

Another amendment would make the hearings of an investigative parliamentary commission open to the media, with the exception of cases involving state secrets.

Opening a parliamentary investigation would also be made easier, with the assent of only one-fifth of Duma deputies and Federation Council members required, instead of one-third as was initially proposed.

Another amendment would limit the duration of a parliamentary investigation to one year.