Russia tightens laws on ‘foreign agents’
Legislation tightened on foreign agents
President assents to new laws passed at the closing sitting of the Spring session of the State Duma and Federal Council.
Liability for breaches of the law on foreign agents
Vladimir Putin has given his assent to acts of parliament about the administrative and criminal penalties that can be imposed on those who violate the law on foreign agents.
One instrument amends the Code on administrative breaches of the law in order to provide that all foreign agents have the same status, regardless of which sector they work in. Beforehand, the consequences of failing to observe the law on foreign agents was dealt with in various statutes, depending on whether the violation related to a civil society organisation, a foreign media outlet or individual people.
A second instrument amends the Criminal Code by making it an offence to fail to fulfil the duties placed on a foreign agent with administrative prejudice. The concept of malicious intent (deliberate failure to fulfil the duties placed on a foreign agent) has been removed from article 330.1 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code.
Penalty for founding or belonging to various civil society organisations
The penalty for founding a civil society organisation (including those designated as a foreign agent) has doubled in severity where the organisation aims to encourage people to refuse to fulfil their obligations to society. Sentences have been introduced of up to five years’ forced labour (currently three) or up to six years’ imprisonment (also three at present). Alternative punishments – fines of up to 200,000 roubles or up to three years of restrictions on one’s liberty – have been removed from the Russian Federation Criminal Code.
Membership of these organisations attracts a fine of up to 200,000 roubles (currently up to 120,000 roubles) or the withholding of a defendant’s salary (or other source of income) for up to 18 months (currently up to a year).
Other possible sanctions include up to 400 hours of mandatory community service, correctional work for up to two years, up to three years of restrictions on one’s liberty (currently up to two years) and up to fours years of forced labour (currently up to two).
The law has increased penalties for founding or leading a religious or community organisation with links to violence or damaging people’s health in other ways. Conviction can lead to up to five years’ forced labour (currently up to four) or up to seven years in prison (currently up to four). Alternative punishments – fines of up to 300,000 roubles – have been removed.