The Duma Committee approved amendments to the draft law on foreign influence. By the second reading, the bans for foreign agents have expanded – they will not be able to receive state support for creativity and conduct eco-examination
The State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption at a meeting considered amendments to the draft on foreign influence— it summarizes the norms of the legislation on foreign agents. In total, the committee proposed 14 amendments for adoption, 13 of which were introduced by the authors of the bill, another belongs to the deputy from United Russia; Elena Yampolskaya.
The project “On control over the activities of persons under foreign influence” submitted to the Duma at the end of April, adopted in the first reading on June 7.
Amendments to the bill expand the list of foreign sources, for receiving support (financial or “assistance in other forms”) from which one can be recognized as a foreign agent. Sources of foreign influence in the amendments will include not only foreign states, international organizations and people receiving money from such sources, but also “foreign structures without forming a legal entity”, follows from the supported amendment by LDPR deputy Andrei Lugovoy.
«Foreign structures without formation of a legal entity— these are all kinds of officially unregistered associations, purposefully and organizationally carrying out activities in a certain area, & mdash; Igor Semenovsky, a lawyer, senior lecturer at the Financial University under the Government, told RBC.— For example, these are the organizations Reporters Without Borders, Rivers Without Borders, White Helmets. According to foreign law, these can be both political NGOs (which is basically what the bill implies), as well as all sorts of commercial trusts, holdings, and so on, he specified.
The Committee also approved an increase in the number of restrictions on foreign agents— now, if the bill is adopted, it will not be possible to teach in state and municipal educational organizations. In addition, the amendments prohibit foreign agents from receiving budgetary support for creative activities, from participating as an expert in the conduct of state environmental expertise, and from operating “critical information infrastructure” facilities. and keep them safe.
Critical information infrastructure objects include government agencies that own information systems— we are talking about portals of state authorities and their databases, Igor Semenovsky told RBC. For example, it can be a passport database, an aircraft control system, a flight control center or the State Services portal, the lawyer added.
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What bans for foreign agents have already been in the first reading
The introduced bill provided for a number of restrictions for foreign agents. They will not be able to organize public events (that is, rallies, processions, pickets); conduct educational, educational activities in relation to minors and produce information products for them; receive state financial support— such as grants. Also, foreign agents will not be able to invest in strategic enterprises in Russia, use the simplified taxation system, make donations to the election funds of candidates, political parties.
Clarification of the concepts and mechanism of prescriptions
Deputy from “United Russia” Olga Pavlova and representatives of A Just Russia— For the truth” Yana Lantratova and Mikhail Delyagin proposed not to classify as political activity (which is one of the necessary grounds for inclusion in foreign agents) the activity to protect “human life, family”; and “traditional family values”. It is clarified that charity cannot be classified as such, but only if it “does not contradict the national interests of the Russian Federation, the foundations of the public law and order of the Russian Federation, other values protected by the Constitution.”
The amendments, supported by the relevant committee, state that members of international organizations who have come to Russia to perform official duties cannot be recognized as foreign agents. According to the amendment introduced by deputies Lantratova and Delyagin, associations of employers and registered chambers of commerce and industry are excluded from potential foreign agents.
The amendment, proposed by the chairman of the security committee, Vasily Piskarev, involves the creation of a new registry— list of persons affiliated with foreign agents. The concept of an affiliate appeared in April 2021. According to the text of the draft, restrictions for foreign agents do not apply to them. Deputy Lugovoi suggested recognizing individuals and legal entities as foreign agents not from the day they were included in the relevant register (as it was in the draft law initially), but the next day after that.
In case of violations of the activities of a foreign agent, the authorized body will now be obliged to issue an order to eliminate them, and this should be given at least a month. The requirements for the form and procedure for posting warnings about the dissemination of materials by foreign agents in accordance with the amendments will be established by the government.
By the second reading, the law has a transitional period— the deputies propose to postpone the date of its entry into force to December 1, 2022.
Criticism before and after the first reading
“The range of information, for the financing and dissemination of which the assignment of the status of a foreign agent is provided, is not defined”, — pointed out in the official response to the bill by the government, emphasizing the “risk of assigning the said status.” The introduced project on foreign influence expanded the list of activities for which you can get on the list of the Ministry of Justice— included there “dissemination of messages and materials intended for an unlimited circle of persons”; with foreign support. A large number of professions fall under such a definition, including the publication of any scientific publication, the deputy from the “New People” pointed out at a meeting of the Duma. Ksenia Goryacheva.
Yury Sinelshchikov, a deputy from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, noted that the concept of “foreign support” very vague, and the wording “providing assistance in other forms” allows you to give the status of a foreign agent to “practically everyone.” The authors of the bill previously told RBC that they also plan to clarify the concept of “foreign influence”, but there are no amendments to this concept by the second reading.
The bill does not imply any verification of the reality of “foreign influence”, which, according to essentially means abandoning the need to prove the presence of foreign funding, the conclusion of the Presidential Human Rights Council (HRC) was indicated. The HRC also considers it necessary to abandon the list of “persons affiliated with foreign agents”; because of the risk of completely random people getting there. Inclusion in the register of foreign agents actually limits the rights to freedom of expression of thought and speech, guaranteed by Art. 29 of the Constitution, and also entails a defeat in social and labor rights, noted in the Human Rights Council.
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