Debate begins on Putin contentious law
“Such actions can only be perceived as attempts of rude and unacceptable interference in the work of Russian state authorities and the sovereign legislative process,” Konstantin Dolgov, the ministry’s human rights ombudsman, said in a statement.“Moscow is not always satisfied with certain discussions and decisions by the U.S. Congress, but we’re principally abstaining from interfering with the legislative activity in the United States. We are entitled to expect it to be mutual,” Dolgov said.
The law on NGOs, branding politically active non-governmental organizations that use foreign funding “foreign agents,” was passed by the State Duma this week, along with a law introducing a blacklist for internet websites with “harmful” content. Critics said the laws could be used to limit freedom of expression.
Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin, Russia’s parliament has rushed through a flurry of legislation giving him new powers to nail down the opposition movement.“This is Vladimir Putin’s post-electoral package of repressive bills aimed at harshly clamping down on internal politics in the country,” said human rights lawyer and blogger Pavel Chikov.The amendments “will undoubtedly be used actively against the awakening civil society in Russia,” he told.
Last month, the parliament has passed laws massively raising fines for misdemeanours at protests and allowing the government to block access to blacklisted Internet sites.On its last pre-holiday session on Friday, the lower house voted through a bill recriminalising slander and libel with massive fines, and another ordering NGOs with international funding to call themselves “foreign agents.”
The bills now need to be passed by the Federation Council upper house and then signed into law by President Putin.The day was swiftly named Black Friday by opponents.
The authorities insist that the measures reflect international norms and that civil society even stands to benefit.
“These are laws that are in the interests of civil society. They are not against anyone. They are for protecting the safety of civil society,” said the head of the lower house’s security and anti-corruption committee, Irina Yarovaya.
Yet critics say the laws are clearly aimed at dampening opposition to Putin.
“Now it is possible to create a criminal case against any active person. Not necessarily put them in jail, but stub out their desire to take part in protests,” said political analyst and editor of Russky Zhurnal website, Alexander Morozov.
A key question is how the powers will be used against protest leaders, particularly charismatic lawyer, blogger and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny.
Rallying slogans coined by Navalny, “Putin is a thief” and “Party of Swindlers and Thieves ” to describe the ruling party, would fall under the new slander law, hinted the lower house’s deputy speaker, Sergei Zheleznyak.
“When people try to use slander to prove crimes by the authorities, accusing whole large groups of people, then they are criminals! This is unacceptable,” he said in televised comments.Media agencie