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Commissioner calls on the State Duma of the Russian Federation to refrain from adopting the new bill on foreign agents

Statement
Strasbourg 21/11/2019
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I call on the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to refrain from adopting the draft law currently under examination that would significantly extend the definition and scope of a “foreign agent”.

Such a law would allow the authorities to designate as a “foreign agent” any person who disseminates information and materials and receives foreign funding.

If adopted, this law would only aggravate a situation already tarnished by a legislative framework on non-commercial organisations that is incompatible with international and European human rights standards.

The existing legal framework already restricts the work of civil society organisations in the Russian Federation and interferes with the rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression of many non-commercial organisations and human rights defenders. Extending the scope and definition of the concept of “foreign agent” would deal a major blow to media freedom and people’s ability to receive and impart information.

Instead of adopting legislation that aims at intimidating and silencing journalists, human rights defenders and other individuals, the authorities of the Russian Federation should thoroughly review the current legislation in order to bring it in line with European and international human rights standards.