Russia parliament approves bill labeling many NGOs 'foreign agents'

[JURIST] The Russian Federal Council [official website], the upper house of parliament, approved a bill on Wednesday that labels nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that accept international funding as "foreign agents." Critics of President Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian] argue that this is another piece of legislation that is intended to curb free speech [RFE/RL report] and the right to assembly. Also on Wednesday UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] stated that Putin's new regime is taking steps backward [Reuters report] into a more restrictive, Soviet-style type of government where freedoms are not recognized. In Russia the term "foreign agents" is often associated with "spies." The legislation has already been approved [JURIST report] by the State Duma [official website, in Russian] and now awaits Putin's signature.

This bill is viewed by critics as being part of a continuing effort to crackdown on the freedom of speech and assembly in Russia. Earlier this month the State Duma approved [JURIST report] the third reading of a controversial Internet regulation bill. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia had shut down its site [JURIST report] on earlier this month in a one-day protest of the legislation, which it said in an article "may become the basis for real censorship on the internet." In June Putin signed into law a controversial bill which greatly increases penalties for protesters [JURIST report] who violate demonstration regulations. Critics of the bill stated that the new penalties, which included a 150-fold increase in the fine for participating in an unsanctioned rally, were draconian. In May prominent Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekeyev became the first to be convicted [JURIST report] under a St. Petersburg city ordinance that prohibits the spreading "homosexual propaganda" to minors. People who oppose the new law, which was introduced in November and signed into law [JURIST reports] in April, claim it will prevent gay rights groups from being able to assemble in public.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.