Russia’s Constitutional Court rejects challenge to the law on foreign agents
Russia’s Constitutional Court refuses to consider a challenge to the law on foreign agents
The complaint concerned the application of the foreign agents’ law to scientists and organisations engaged in scientific work.
Last November, Russia’s Constitutional Court received a complaint from the Institute of Law and Public Policy (ILPP), challenging its inclusion on the foreign agents’ register.
In its complaint, the Institute claimed there had been a violation of two articles of the Russian Federation’s Constitution, i.e. No. 44 on the freedom of scientific activity and No. 29 on the right to freedom of speech and dissemination of information as a result of the laws on CSOs and foreign interference.
According to a report in Kommersant on 17 January, the Court refused to review the legislation on CSOs and foreign interference in relation to the work of scientists.
In its complaint, the ILPP stated that “challenges to the authorities” are an “integral part of the work” of scientists and that science “inevitably influences the formation of opinions and beliefs”. The Court declined to consider the appeal, stating that it was unaware of any “arbitrary application” of the foreign agents’ law in relation to the ILPP.
In its response, the Court reiterated that “the work of CSOs in areas such as science, culture and art does not constitute political activity and therefore cannot serve as a basis for inclusion on the foreign agents’ register”.
“In 2014, the Court made it clear that science was not the same as politics, even if it is subject to foreign influence. But this hasn’t been the case for the last nine years during which time the situation for independent scientific organisations has deteriorated”, said an ILPP lawyer Ivan Brikulsky to Kommersant.
A State Duma deputy and co-author of the foreign agents’ law Oleg Matveychev said last November that, in his view, political and scientific activity were quite different from one another. The former involves taking part in rallies, demonstrations and issuing public statements in contrast to the latter “in which a person will write scientific articles and books, speak at scientific conferences and give university lectures”.
The ILPP was placed on the foreign agents’ register in 2021 following an audit by the Ministry of Justice. At the time, the Ministry stated that the Institute’s political activities included, among other things, “holding open discussions on constitutional and legal issues, publishing legal research and preparing standard texts for draft legislation”.