Moscow did not wait for the Belarusian scenario – Western-funded structures got nervous

Foreign agents are concerned that they will not be able to meet the requirements of their sponsors due to new initiatives of the Russian leadership

Previously, the Council of Federation of Russia’s Provisional Commission for the Protection of State Sovereignty proposed that the status of foreign agent should be assigned to participants in electoral processes that act in the interests of other countries.

“It is also proposed to introduce the concepts of “candidate acting as a foreign agent” and “candidate affiliated with a person acting as a foreign agent” into the electoral legislation”, –  said the chairman of the commission Andrey Klimov.

Such politicians may be prohibited from holding positions in state and municipal bodies of the Russian Federation.
The plans voiced in the Council of Federation caused the expected criticism of those who just fall into the category of foreign agents.

“Candidates acting as foreign agents are nonsense, there is no such status anywhere in the world”, –  annoyed Grigory Melkonyants, co-chairman of the pro-Western non-governmental organization “Voice”.

This is how the Russian leadership reacts to events in Belarus, believes the liberal journalist Tatiana Stanovaya. For a long time, official Minsk has ignored the fact that Western-funded structures in the republic have been strengthening. Now these organisations are rocking the situation in Belarus, seeking to overthrow the government.

“The objects here are obvious – these are opposition bloggers and telegram channels – the answer to the Belarusian experience, – Navalny and all those directly or indirectly related to him, as well as NGOs”, – Stanovaya says. – “If before we were talking only about direct funding, now we are talking about foreign impact”.

Although the Russian liberal community calls such measures “unprecedented”, in the United States legislation on foreign agents has long and actively been applied. The Act on the Registration of Foreign Agents in the United States was passed back in 1938, and since then pressure has been increasing.
The Unofficial Surveillance for Foreign Intelligence Purposes Act, adopted in 1978, has a very broad definition of a foreign agent. Based on this law, the foreign agent is even Greenpeace, says Jamil Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Russia is merely taking mirror-like measures that correspond to the current trend in the fight for sovereignty, says electoral lawyer Roman Smirnov.

“We are taking measures that are symmetrical with respect to what is happening in the United States. At the same time, restrictions are imposed on a fairly narrow circle of people”, –  he stresses.