The Straits Times
Published on Nov 13, 2012

Putin suggests some flexibility on anti-dissent laws


MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday he was ready to review or move more slowly on a clutch of recent laws that rights campaigners say are aimed at silencing his critics.

Since Mr Putin's re-election in March, preceded by the largest protests in his 12 years in power, parliament has rushed through laws tightening controls on the Internet, increasing the penalties for defamation and expanding the definition of high treason, among others.

Rights activists and political opponents say Mr Putin has orchestrated the clampdown, and the West has also expressed concern that civil liberties are being rolled back.

"Everything that is taking place here is done for a sole purpose - that of our country being stable. Effective and stable," Mr Putin told a meeting of the Civil Society and Human Rights Council, his own advisory body.