Moscow tightens "foreign agents" regulations

In Russia, the regulations on "foreign agents" (inoagenty) were tightened on 1 December. Among other things, documented financing from abroad is no longer necessary for a person or organisation to be classified as such. All it takes is for the authorities to declare that they are "under foreign influence". In addition, there is now a public central register listing the 350 or so persons and organisations currently affected.

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Echo (RU) /

Blanket suspicion

In a Telegram post republished by Echo, lawyer Kaloy Akhilgov explains:

“Anyone can be labelled a foreign agent if they engage in political activities. ... You can also be classified as a foreign agent for the dissemination of print, audio or video materials and other messages to the general public, as well as participation in the creation of such messages. And, of course, the funding of such activities. This means that from now on, the Ministry of Justice does not have to prove the receipt of funding from abroad. It is enough for it to state that you are engaged in political activity. Even if all you did was take to the streets with a political placard.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Ample leeway for denouncers

Stigmatising opponents of the regime is becoming ever easier, Tygodnik Powszechny concurs:

“What is remarkable is the vague formulation that leads to the designation of a person or organisation as a 'foreign agent'. Previously, the criterion was the receipt of funds from abroad, now it is sufficient to be 'under foreign influence'. What exactly is meant by this? That remains to be seen. Anyone who is 'associated with a foreign agent' is also suspect. This wording is also fuzzy and leaves ample leeway for controllers and enforcers.”

Kirill Shulika (RU) /

A blatant call for exile

Blogger Kirill Shulika comments on Facebook on the status of "foreign agent":

“It is a stigma and a warning that the state has questions about this person, but not yet ones that will trigger the apparatus of repression. And that it is better to stay out of harm's way. If you have already left the country, you will be considered an agent and should not return. ... The entire process is similar to the revocation of Soviet citizenship not so long ago. But back then it was simple: they took away your passport and put you on a plane. Today they don't do that anymore, you do it all yourself. Which is why the state can cheekily claim that it is tremendously liberal because it leaves the borders open.”