Vladimir Putin toughens sentences for recruiting terrorists

A stiil video image shows investigators working on the site of a blast at a St Petersburg supermarket.
A stiil video image shows investigators working on the site of a blast at a St Petersburg supermarket.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
An interior view of a supermarket is seen after an explosion in St Petersburg, Russia.
An interior view of a supermarket is seen after an explosion in St Petersburg, Russia.PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law on Friday (Dec 29) a Bill toughening sentences for terrorist recruitment as the country deals with the issue of returning militants from Syria.

Official publication of the law came two days after a bomb attack on a supermarket in Saint Petersburg, Russia's second city, injured 14 people.

The new law, which parliament voted through on Dec 14 and the upper chamber approved on Dec 26, immediately raises the maximum sentence for terrorist recruitment and finance to life from 10 years.

Russia's military intervened in Syria in September 2015 to shore up the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and combat militants, making Russia a major target for such groups.

After Putin announced a partial troop withdrawal earlier this month, security services voiced fears of militants returning to Russia from Syria after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group (ISIS) lost most of its self-proclaimed caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq.

Putin called Wednesday's blast in his home city of Saint Petersburg an "act of terror" and Thursday warned armed criminals they faced being "liquidated on the spot".

Russia's FSB security service said two weeks ago it had broken up an ISIS cell planning a Dec 16 terror attack at an Orthodox cathedral in Saint Petersburg, a key tourist attraction.

That attack was foiled with the help of America's CIA, which led Putin to thank US President Donald Trump.