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Recent changes in repressive legislation

Contribution to Unified Front Webinar on December 11, 2022, RMP Russia


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As of December 1, a new repressive law comes into force, called the Law "On Control of the Activity of Persons under Foreign Influence." It was passed by the State Duma in June. Under the new law, anyone recognized by the state as a "foreign agent" will be added to an official list that includes not only their name, but also their date of birth and personal information such as their individual tax number. In addition, another list is created that includes individuals who are "associated" with "foreign agents." The definition of "foreign agent" has been changed to include not only individuals who have received funds from abroad, but also individuals who are considered to be "under foreign influence." In other words, it can be any person, for any reason. For example, learning a foreign language from a native speaker or attending a conference organized by a foreign country.

Anyone considered a "foreign agent" is barred from government service, including teaching and organizing public events, and must use a special sign reading "I AM A FOREIGN AGENT" (in capital letters) when publishing information. There is a long list of restrictions. It is strange that "foreign agents" are not totally excluded from the elections, but candidacy or even registration is almost impossible for them.

It is clear that the new law is primarily directed against the liberal opposition, which the Putin regime considers its main enemy. It is also no big secret that Russian liberals have always had close ties with Europe and America. The regime tries to stigmatize its political rivals by portraying them as agents of Western countries that want to "undermine" the Russian state. In doing so, it makes use of the anti-Western sentiment that is widespread among the masses and is actively stoked by state propaganda.

The new law also poses a direct threat to the Russian left, which has numerous international ties and connections, especially to the European left. For example, a well-known democratic socialist, Boris Kagarlitzky, is officially recognized as a "foreign agent." He had ties to the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. Other leftist organizations could also be recognized as "foreign agents" at the discretion of the state.

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