MOSCOW, December 8 (RAPSI) – Russia’s State Duma has approved a softened version of a bill regulating use of force and special equipment such as batons, pepper spray against prisoners, which is expected to be adopted in the second reading on December 14, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Thursday.

The initial version of the bill developed by the Government proposed to allow any violation of penitentiary regulation be punished using special equipment, Vedomosti reports. The bill, approved in the first reading, caused a public stir and was heavily criticized by human rights activists who noted that it did not specify concrete measures that could be taken against a prisoner.

According to Vedomosti, the new version of the bill allows use of special equipment only for certain violations in contrast to any violation as initially proposed. The original bill also envisaged the use of force against convicts in case they violated penitentiary regulations; MPs discarded this idea from the bill. Moreover, the lawmakers amended the bill to the effect that in case force is used against convicts, those affected are entitled to timely medical care and the act of the use of force is to be registered on video. Suggestions proposing that force may be used only on camera were scrapped as potentially unsafe.

Overall, 19 of 27 suggested changes were approved by the lawmakers.

Human rights activists also proposed to notify the Investigative Committee about the use of force, but Russia’s Government and Presidential State Legal Administration went against this suggestion, Vedomosti reports. The original provision of the bill was retained, so the Investigative Committee is to be notified only if there is suspicion that the use of force constitutes elements of crime.