Thursday, January 23, 2014

Legislators Planning to Toughen Russia's "Foreign Agent" Law

A federal law passed last November requires that all NGOs engaged in political activity and receiving finance from abroad register as “foreign agents” or face fines of up to 500,000 rubles (over $15,300). A new bill proposing amendment to this law has been withdrawn, and will be resubmitted to the State Duma after having some tougher restrictions added to it, said one of the bill’s sponsors and United Russia member Yevgeny Fyodorov.  “We are just making the phrasing of what is considered a foreign agent more stringent. Initially, the requirement was 50% of foreign funding. However, after the recent events in Ukraine – where the media in fact triggered a civil war of sorts, we decided to change the figure. In effect, there is a similar situation going on in Russia,” Fyodorov said.  In February of 2013, 11 Russian NGOs, including Moscow Helsinki Group, lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) protesting the law.

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