“Foreign agents”

welcome_to_russiaThere’s been a lot of talk recently about Russian NGO’s being given the “foreign agent” status by our prohibition-absessed government. A few of you appeared puzzled as to what the fuss is all about. I’m thus compelled to say a few words to clarify the issue.

The essence of this law, passed in July 2012, is that any NGO that both engages in “political activity” and receives money from abroad is to be branded “foreign agent”. So far such organizations as the Liberal Mission Foundation, a historical and civil rights society Memorial, and the Belonna Foundation in Murmansk, along with 60+ other groups, have been given the label.

What are the consequences of receiving this status?

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Separatist statements are now illegal

I thought it was a joke.

It wasn’t. A new law banning “calls for actions directed against territorial integrity of the Russian Federation” was signed on December 29th 2013. In effect that means separatist statements, including those made in the Internet, are illegal. The fine is up to 300 th. roubles ($10 th.), up to 300 hours of public works, and 3-5 years in prison. “Up to 5 years” usually means “full 5 years”, and “prison” in the Russian context is “low-intensity torture”.

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