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Russian Chief of Staff Announces Pre-emptive Strikes; Government Announces Sweeping Reforms to Combat Terrorism

Following the school siege in Beslan which resulted in at least 326 dead and more than 700 injured, the Russian army’s Chief of Staff announced his Government’s plans to launch pre-emptive strikes on terrorist bases anywhere in the world. After the siege, the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, began debating sweeping reforms to combat terrorism. If the laws are enacted, the Government would have the right to declare a “state of war“ in the event of “a terrorist action representing a threat to national security“. At present, a state of war, under which a number of human rights can be suspended, can be declared only in response to an armed invasion by another country. The Duma rejected calls to reintroduce the death penalty, on which Russia has maintained a moratorium since it joined the Council of Europe in 1996, for those convicted of terrorist offences. The Government also announced that it will launch a parliamentary inquiry into the sequence of events that led to the end of the siege.