“Foreign agents’ law damaging public life”
A recent statement has declared that changes being worked up by the Federation’s Ministry of Justice will lead to public activity in Russia being further discredited.
A statement signed by members of the Russian PEN Centre, historians, members of the Volny historical society and Russian scientists has been published on the “Human Rights inRussia” portal. “It is clear that implementation of the foreign agents law is having a destructive and repressive effect and, as a result, causing significant damage to public life in Russia, thereby denying people the opportunity to engage in worthwhile public activity which is guaranteed to citizens under the Russian Constitution”, says the statement.
The statement’s authors stress that “damage” being caused by the foreign agents law is largely down to the vagueness and ambiguity of the legislation’s wording. A Bill which clarifies what is meant by “political activity” in the law on foreign agents and which is being developed by the Justice Ministry will only encourage its use as an “instrument of arbitrary power and political harassment”, they say.
Russian scientists and cultural figures are calling on the Justice Ministry to withdraw its Bill and “eliminate the arbitrariness of State agencies towards public organisations and so protect the constitutional right of the citizen to engage freely in public activity”. The Bill has been posted on the Federation’s draft regulations portal.
The instruction to clarify the meaning of “political activity” was issued by Vladimir Putin following his meeting with the Presidential Council on the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC) in October last year. A working group on NGOs has been set up under the auspices of the Federation’s Presidential Office to help clarify the wording.
The HRC is convening a special meeting to discuss the changes proposed by the Justice Ministry on 10 February which will be attended by human rights activists, NGO experts and Government representatives.
Author: Georgy Ivanushkin