Everyone knew that the semi-openness drifting through Russia after Gorbachev/Yeltsin would one day end under Putin. A party loyal to Putin has drafted a piece of legislation that targets foreign based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as “undesirables.” The bill has left it open as to the nature of what “undesirable” really is under the law. And the targeting has already begun, according to Radio Free Europe.
A 2012 law currently requires any foreign organization that is tied to politics to register with the state as a “foreign agent.” Foreign funding, foreign members…it’s all in the works to get tougher on them all.
Vague and dangerous
Foreign based organizations such as Amnesty International, Reporters without Borders, Transparency International, and a host of other organizations that seek to reveal human rights violations are in the cross hairs of the new legislation, as are numerous businesses and other groups. And NGOs are not clearly defined in Russian law in the first place, so their fate may be in serious jeopardy.
The BBC wrote:
“A party loyal to President Vladimir Putin drafted the new law. His supporters dominate both houses of parliament.
The text going through the Duma – Russia’s lower house – says it will be up to Russian prosecutors and the foreign ministry to decide if a foreign organisation or firm is “undesirable”.
A foreigner declared “undesirable” could face a fine of up to 500,000 roubles (£6,343; $10,000) and up to six years in jail….
Pavel Chikov, head of a human rights umbrella group called Agora, said: “Simply declaring someone ‘undesirable, we don’t want to see him on our territory’ will be a violation of international law and general legal principles, and of the civil legal code.”
Note: Agora is one of numerous organizations that has received a “notice of violation” of being a ‘foreign agent,’ even before the law has passed the Russian legislature. Under this new law, Russia can punish anyone they like – whether it’s an oil company or a media organization, or someone in a financial group. The language is vague intentionally- a political move bent on punishing foreign-based organizations, businesses, and people. It does NOT include the word noncommercial or commercial…it is open ended.
Ratchet down on people you don’t like
Russia has never cared much about ‘general legal principles’ or ‘international law,’ any more than our own president cares about the constitution. The lawless nature of the world at this point in history reveals that many governments are doing their own thing in flagrant disregard for the people of a nation. Russia has many NGOs based in America but working on Russian soil- some of them are ministry based orphanages who help care for the children, some are businesses … all corners of the spectrum.
Will this new law place them at risk? To those who always said “that can’t happen here” or “they wouldn’t do that” – heads up, it’s happening. The door to Russia is closing fast.