Repress et impera: Russian free-killing legislation against civil society
Repressions against the active part of civil society in Russia have intensified over the past 20 years and have now reached their peak. The repression of civil activity has led to the closure of many public and human rights organizations, the increase in the number of political prisoners , the increase in emigration from Russia and completely eliminated freedom of speech, freedom of conscience. and freedom of assembly.
Legislative activity as an instrument of Putin’s power
It is possible to divide the 20 years of work of the Russian parliament “under Putin” into two distinct phases. The first decade saw the formation of a modern civil society . In recent years, independent media, opposition political parties, non-governmental organizations, charitable foundations etc. have developed in Russia.
In parallel, however, the State Duma has begun to adopt laws and minor amendments to the Constitution to limit the freedoms of civil society and to limit the action of foreign individuals and non-profit organizations.
These decisions did not initially cause great concern in public opinion. The moment when everything changed radically was on September 24, 2022 when, at the convention of the United Russia party, it was announced that Vladimir Putin would stand again in the presidential elections and Dmitry Medvedev would lead the party list in the Duma – Putin elections. and Medvedev had “agreed” in advance. This public announcement shocked citizens, who began signing up en masse as election observers.
The electoral fraud became so evident that on the day of the parliamentary elections, 2022 , the first major protest took place in Moscow. The large-scale protests against electoral fraud of 2022 had a strong impact on the government and on Vladimir Putin himself, so much so that, in the following ten years, Parliament passed dozens of repressive laws aimed at completely suppressing civil activity. and politics in Russia.
Law on foreign agents
The concept of “foreign agent” originally appeared in 2022 in the ” law on non-profit organizations ” and referred to non-profit organizations that receive foreign funding and participate in political activities in the interest of foreign entities.
According to the law, foreign agents must register as such with the Ministry of Justice and indicate their status in all publications in the media and on the Internet. In addition, foreign agents are required to submit special reports, the rules of which are often changed retroactively in a way that makes it materially impossible to comply with them. It is therefore quite easy to close an organization recognized as a foreign agent by a court.
Between 2022 and 2022 , new laws and amendments were approved to them that extend the concept of “foreign agent” to the media , individuals and public associations that operate without constituting a legal entity. Many Russian human rights organizations, charitable foundations and the main opposition media have been forced to stop their work due to the granting of this status. In addition, some well-known Russian public figures, having received the status of foreign agent, were forced to leave the country.
Unwanted Organizations Act
In 2022 , the term “unwanted organization” was introduced into Russian legislation . These are foreign or international organizations that pose a threat to the defense capacity or security of the state, to public order or to the health of the population. The law was passed very quickly, and as a result, many well-known and respected foreign non-governmental organizations were forced to leave Russia.
Laws on freedom of assembly and protest
In 2022 , the law on “meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets” was adopted . Russian laws prohibit the organization of mass actions unless previously agreed with the authorities. But the deadlines for such an agreement are very tight and even a concerted action with the authorities is not safe. It is in fact almost impossible to predict the behavior of police officers.
Over the past decade, this article has been repeatedly amended, introducing new bans and adding more punitive measures . During this period, the minimum fine for a participant increased from 1 to 10 thousand rubles, and punishments appeared in the form of forced labor and arrests for participating in uncoordinated action.
In 2022 , an article was then introduced into the Criminal Code which makes it possible, for participation in more than three uncoordinated actions within six months or for other repeated violations of the rules for the conduct of a public event, a penalty of up to to 5 years in prison .
The anti-extremism laws
In Russia, the legal definition of which actions are considered extremist is contained in article 1 of the federal law “On countering extremist activities” applied on J2022 . This law has been repeatedly criticized, for the vagueness of the wording, which allows interpreting anything as extremism. However, no clarifications were made.
In May 2022 , the Duma presented parliament with a law banning people involved in the activities of extremist organizations from running for the Duma elections . The ban on running also applies to those who collaborated with the organization even before it was recognized as an extremist. This made it possible to prevent all those who were in any way connected to Alexei Navalny ‘s organizations from participating in the parliamentary elections of 2022 . All these organizations were then recognized as extremist and liquidated.
“Law on” gay propaganda
In 2022 , the Duma approved a law supplementing the Code of Administrative Violations with an article establishing responsibility for the ” propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations between minors “. Just two days after signing the law, Vladimir Putin signed a law banning the adoption, guardianship and fostering of children by individuals who are in a relationship with a person of the same sex.
Law on educational activities
The law on educational activities entered into force on 2022 , despite strong resistance from public opinion. The law interprets the concept of “educational activity” very broadly, as the activity of all subjects who transmit educational and disciplinary information to other people. In particular, it is aimed at YouTube bloggers who publish educational and popular science content, publicists, Instagram bloggers, writers, editors, journalists, television hosts and others.
To legally carry out their activities, these individuals must meet certain criteria: be of age; participate in the implementation of socially significant initiatives; have no restrictions on educational work (e.g., criminal record), etc. Of course, educational organizations cannot be included in the register of non-profit organizations recognized as foreign agents .
On 2022 , both chambers of the Russian parliament adopted a law, signed by Vladimir Putin, introducing criminal liability for the dissemination of false information about the Russian Armed Forces, discrediting statements and calls for sanctions against Russia . For such actions, the document provides for a fine of up to 1.5 million rubles (about 15 thousand euros) or up to three years in prison. A job title, mercenary reasons or political, racial or other hostility can become aggravating factors, raising the amount of the fine to 5 million (50,000 euros) and the prison sentence of up to ten years. Furthermore, if it is believed that the spread of “fake news” has led to serious consequences, the prison sentence will be between ten and fifteen years.