Russia’s Ominous New Law to Designate Russian Citizens as Foreign Agents. Are Stalin Style Repressions Coming Soon?

  • New law expected to come into effect November 21 pertaining to designating Russia's private citizens as foreign agents.
  • Only one member of Russian duma didn't vote yes to the proposed law, out of 338 members.
  • Everyone must be registered by February 1, 2020.

Russia’s Gosduma approved a new law regarding Russian individuals being designated as  foreign agents if they are working with foreign news outlets and receive funding outside of Russia. Interestingly, besides one member of the Duma, 337 members voted in favor of the proposed law.  It is expected to take effect on November 21. The State Duma, commonly abbreviated in Russian as Gosduma, is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, while the upper house is the Council of the Federation. The Duma headquarters are located in central Moscow, a few steps from Manege Square. Its members are referred to as deputies.

One of the main drivers and supporters of this heavy handed law is RT, a Russian international television network funded by the Russian government. It operates pay television channels directed to audiences outside of Russia, as well as providing Internet content in English, Spanish, French, German, Arabic and Russian.  The main reason RT was created was to specifically target individuals outside of Russia with pro Russian social engineering propaganda.

In October 2019, Alexei Navalny was identified as a foreign agent in Russia. Navalny is a lawyer and an anti-Putin critic as well as one of the opposition leaders in Russia. He receives international donations, due to his work exposing Putin’s corruption.

The law is another step in Vladimir Putin’s plan to alienate Russian nationals and to resurrect the Soviet Iron Curtain. Now, any Russian citizen who works with or publishes articles in international publications will be considered a foreign agent and has to be entered in the database and obtain a registration by February 1, 2020. Even if a Russian citizen received a foreign donation for medical treatment of their child or communicates with a foreign clinic, they would be considered a foreign agent as well.

Originally, the changes in 2017 to the foreign agent designation only pertained to foreign news outlets. However, now in Putin’s Russia, even if the individual is not involved in opposing the views of Kremlin’s politics, they still would be entered in the register and designated as a foreign agent. This has the eerie feeling of the Soviet Union’s KGB collating data about anyone who had any type of contact outside of the country.

Putin’s doctrine is to undermine anyone or any type of news or dealings outside of Russia, to punish former Russian citizens living in the West and to shut down all western media resources. What is next? Will Stalin-type repression make a comeback? Will the individuals entered in the database as foreign agents be ostracized in the Russian society? Will it be frowned upon and create unbearable conditions in the society?

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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