Russian parliament votes to tighten ‘foreign agents’ law | News

The bill says that any person receiving financing or any form of assistance from abroad can be designated as a ‘foreign agent’.

Russia’s lower house of parliament gave initial approval to a bill to further tighten the country’s laws against “foreign agents”, at a time when President Vladimir Putin has warned Russians to be on the lookout for “extraordinary threats”. traitor”.

Russia’s The first law on foreign agents was passed in 2012. Since then, it has been expanded to include non-profit organizations, media outlets and individual Russian citizens including journalists and activists.

The bill, which passed Tuesday by 346 votes to 17 in the first of three readings, stipulates that any person receiving financial assistance or any other form of assistance from abroad can all be designated as a foreign agent.

The act reflects the climate of hostility and distrust in the West that has grown since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, leading to Moscow being subjected to a wave of Western sanctions.

In a speech to the State Duma, the bill’s co-author, Andrei Lugovoy, accused many other unnamed Russian public figures of having received “special training” in the United Kingdom, which he alleges forced to seek to destroy Russia from within.

“What tasks do they set? What documents do they sign? We need to look at this in detail,” said Lugovoy.

The bill also introduces a new category of “persons associated with a foreign agent”. Lugovoy previously said this category could include relatives of foreign spies or others who helped them carry out their operations.

The term “foreign spy”, which has a Cold War connotation of espionage, is used by Russia as a label of hostility towards people and organizations it believes are engaged in such activity. politics with foreign support.

This tightening of the law comes nearly 15 weeks after Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In March, Putin said that the West was trying to use the “fifth column” to weaken Russia and claimed that Russians “will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum”. and traitors”.

The law requires foreign agents to label any publication, including on social media, with a lengthy disclaimer, regularly report on their income and expenses, and experience through financial audits.

Under the bill, Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor would have the power to block websites of foreign spies at the request of the Justice Ministry without a court ruling.

“Naturally, those organizations that participate in Russia’s internal affairs for the sake of foreign money are subject to the strictest controls. Stage = Stage. We have hundreds, if not thousands, of documents on such organizations,” said Adalbi Shkhagoshev, a deputy from the dominant United Russia party.

Currently, the list of foreign agents includes 166 individuals and legal entities.

The designation has been used to target media including German television station Deutsche WelleIndependent news site Mediazona and TV channel Dozhd.

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