What you need to know about Paul Manafort and the Foreign Agents Registration Act
Experts – on the essence of the next Russian bill, tightening the control of the authorities over public space
The bill submitted to the State Duma to expand the list of foreign agents and include in it individuals engaged in politics and receiving funding from abroad, has caused a wave of criticism both in Russia itself and abroad..
On the eve of the international human rights organization Amnesty International appealed to the Russian authorities to refuse to accept it..
Amnesty International believes that the document threatens the work of not only civil society organizations receiving funds from outside Russia, but also directly violates the rights of many other groups of the population. “He will put the stigma of a foreign agent on citizens – as has been done over the past years in relation to independent NGOs,” in particular, stated in the statement released by the organization.
Natalia Prilutskaya: “Everything is aimed at completely strangling civil society”
Amnesty International’s Russia researcher Natalya Prilutskaya, commenting on the Voice of America Russian Service, noted that the new bill should be considered in conjunction with another document introduced on November 10 by the government, which offers new grounds for scrutinizing and liquidating non-profit organizations. According to her, the chances of the adoption of both bills are quite high..
“If this happens, then not only individuals can be easily declared foreign agents, not only will the remaining opportunities for NGOs to receive funding from abroad be closed, but also almost total control over the activities of organizations undesirable to the authorities will be established,” she added. – What does this lead to in practice? For example, if the Ministry of Justice does not like some program of an NGO, the department can make a submission to the organization with a demand to terminate this program, and the organization will be obliged to follow the order or it will be closed. “.
This may affect, for example, the program to support political prisoners, work against torture and so on, says Natalya Prilutskaya. In her opinion, in such conditions, NPOs will be under constant threat of liquidation, and there is no need to talk about any independent activity of them..
“This is another witch hunt. Everything is aimed at completely strangling civil society, ”the human rights activist summed up.
Sergei Lukashevsky: “The purpose of the latest draft laws is to further strengthen the authorities’ control over public space”
In turn, the director of the Sakharov Center, Sergei Lukashevsky, recalled that when the law on “foreign agents” was initially adopted, human rights activists talked about creating a kind of “legal ghetto”. According to him, the authorities initially declared that their goal was solely to make organizations that receive foreign funding and, in accordance with the official wording, political activities visible.
“In reality, this created opportunities for further discrimination against NGOs and the defeat of their rights,” said the interlocutor of the Voice of America. – Today it is becoming more and more obvious. Because over the past years, organizations included in the list of foreign agents have been deprived of the right to nominate election observers, nominate members of public observation commissions, and so on. “.
Now some direct restrictions are being introduced into the constitutional right of NPOs to freely conduct their activities, says Sergei Lukashevsky. That is, we are talking about putting their work under full state control, he said..
“On the other hand, the new bill envisages expanding the range of subjects that can be defined as foreign agents, as well as a list of reasons that can lead to obtaining such a status,” the human rights activist said. – And the reason for this may be not even just foreign funding as such, but, for example, some organizational and methodological assistance. It’s not at all clear what. So, we found in your office a brochure published abroad on how to organize fundraising – and that’s it, you are already a candidate for being blacklisted. “.
The director of the Sakharov Center also recalled what they had done with the Anti-Corruption Fund: “A certain subject sent them money (from abroad), they refused this money, but they made it“ agents ”anyway. And they can do this to anyone, not excluding fraudulent methods. “.
The purpose of the latest bills is to further strengthen the authorities’ control over public space, Sergei Lukashevsky is convinced. In fact, today the deputies are proposing to the state to create an instrument of defeat in the political and civil rights of any objectionable citizen and public association, he concluded..
Any disagreeable person, disagreeable public association can sometimes even be fraudulently accused of any kind of connections with abroad and fall into the sphere of restricting their rights.