The Russian parliament has adopted in the first reading a bill branding non-profit organizations receiving funds from abroad and engaged in political activity as “foreign agents.”
The initiators of the move, the group of deputies from the majority United Russia Party, said they wanted the NGOs to fully inform Russian citizens about their foreign supporters and thus, about their real motivation.
The bill's authors also said the bill was based on on the international experience as similar situations exist in leading democratic countries. The very term "foreign agent" was copied from US legislation.
According to the new bill, such organizations will be included to a special register and be taken under exclusive control. Those avoiding entering the register will be sentenced to correctional tasks or to fines.
However, The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has said the bill couldn't be compared to any legislation or practice existing in the EU or the US. She criticized the new initiative as a danger to civil society in the country and also a circumscription of opposition forces' rights. The bill also provoked protest from many NGOs and rights activists.
The author of the bill, MP Aleksander Sidyakin, dismissed all criticism as “hysteria and delirium”. The politician also said that foreign nations allocate up to $7 billion for Russian NGO activities and this sum was even bigger in 2011 when Russia was holding its latest State Duma elections.
The second and the third readings will be held on July 13. Russian President and some MP's has already promised to offer several amendments.
Author: Julia Alieva