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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: May 19, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
State Duma Passes Law on 'Undesirable Organizations'
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The State Duma or Russian parliament has passed a law on "undesirable" organizations that will enable the Russian government to crack down further on civil society, and other Russian media reported.

The Duma members passed the law in the third reading by a vote of 440 in favor, 3 opposed, and 1 abstained.

It remains for the law to be signed by President Vladimir Putin to go into effect.

A register of "undesirable" foreign groups will be created most likely by the Justice Ministry; it is not yet known what groups will be on it.

Translation: the Duma has passed a law on "undesirable" organizations

From the moment this law first began to be discussed, there seemed little doubt it would be passed.

Under the "foreign agents" law, the Russian government has been able to declare dozens of non-government groups to be "foreign agents" as if they worked for foreign governments, tarring them with a label which drives people away from them and vilifies them in the public eye. This concept is loosely defined and applies to any group that is deemed to be engaged in "political" activity and also receiving grants from abroad. "Political activity" can mean anything from a panel discussion to a petition to the authorities to a street discussion.

But the Russian government still needed a way to pursue groups that did not get any foreign grants. So they conceived of this law in order to create an arbitrary list of organizations deemed "undesirable" in the view of the Russian government, and anyone who contacts them could face a range of punishments from freezing of bank accounts to fines.

 -- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick