Russian lawmakers pass draft legislation to clamp down on dissent ahead of 2021 elections

The State Duma, Russia's parliament, on Tuesday passed in its first reading controversial draft legislation including an expansion of who can be labeled a "foreign agent" amid a growing clampdown on dissent.

This will build on legislation originally passed in 2012 which gave authorities the power to brand NGOs and media organisations as foreign agents. Last year the scope of the legislation was expanded to include individual journalists and bloggers.

Critics say the bill is meant to further clamp down on dissent and pile more pressure on the opposition ahead of next year's parliamentary elections.

Under the proposed new changes, any individual could be deemed a foreign agent if they receive any material or monetary support from abroad, or from organisations already deemed foreign agents.

The law would also ban those individuals from holding municipal government positions.

Experts say that the language of the legislation is so broad that support from overseas could mean simply attending an event organised by a group with foreign funding.

The bill must pass three readings by the Duma and an upper-house Federation Council vote, as well as obtaining President Vladimir Putin's signature, to become law.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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