MOSCOW, March 6 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin signed a bill Monday giving the country's secret services sweeping new powers in the fight against terrorism, the Kremlin press service said.
The bill provides a regulatory framework for dealing with terrorist attacks and their aftermath, and empowers the country's secret services to tap telephone conversations and control electronic communications in areas where counter-terrorism operations are being run.
Under the bill, Russia's air-defense forces are empowered to shoot down hijacked planes in order to prevent attacks on strategic facilities or public places.
The draft was approved by parliament's lower chamber February 26 and upper chamber March 1.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.