Russia expands ‘foreign agents’ law to target ‘foreign influence’

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The lower house of the Russian parliament has passed a new bill expanding the criteria for individuals and organizations who can qualify as “foreign agents”.

According to the new law passed by the State Duma, any organization “under foreign influence” can be listed as a “foreign agent”, barring it from activities such as receiving state funding, teaching at universities in state, working with minors or providing expertise. on environmental issues.

Previously, only groups or individuals who received money from abroad could legally be called a “foreign agent”.

The legislation also establishes a new register of people and groups “affiliated with foreign agents” to be maintained by the Russian Ministry of Justice. The list will include anyone who has worked with or received funding from a “foreign agent”.

The bill must now be approved by the Federation Council of Russia’s upper house and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin before becoming law.

Introduced in 2012, Russia’s “foreign agents” law has been widely applied to organizations that challenge the Kremlin, including human rights groups and independent media.

Those given the label, which echoes the Soviet-era “enemy of the people” label, are subject to numerous accounting constraints and procedures, such as the addition of boilerplate text declaring their status on all online posts.

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