Betraying The Motherland :
At the behest of Vladimir Putin's government, Russian lawmakers are about to give the legal definitions of treason and espionage a little makeover. Just some minor cosmetic changes. Nothing to be alarmed about, really.
In the Russian Criminal Code, treason currently is defined as taking action aimed at damaging the country's external security. Espionage is defined as revealing state secrets to foreign governments, their organizations, or their representatives.
The government submitted a bill to the State Duma on December 12 widening treason to include endangering Russia's "constitutional order, sovereignty, and territorial integrity." Likewise, the definition of espionage will be expanded to include revealing state secrets to foreign NGOs.
Not surprisingly, rights activists are duly distressed. The daily "Kommersant" quoted Lev Levinson of the Human Rights Institute as saying that that if the authorities are really going to interpret "any action directed against the constitutional regime" as treason, then its goal was apparently "to restore the Stalinist norm when anti-Soviet activity was a criminal offense."