Russia: how to equate a pen with a media-foreign agent

Russian human rights activists – about the absurdity of the prohibitive law&# 160; about "foreign agents"

Russia: how to equate a pen with a media-foreign agent

The decision of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation announced on the eve of the inclusion of five individuals in the register of “foreign media performing the functions of a foreign agent” caused outrage in Russian civil society and condemnation by international journalistic and human rights organizations.

Russia: how to equate a pen with a media-foreign agent

In particular, Daisy Sindelar, Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Radio Liberty / Radio Free Europe (RFE / RL) Corporation, condemned the unprecedented decision: “The fact that professional journalists were among the first of those whom Russia named "foreign agents", deserves condemnation. ” According to her, with its approach, the Russian department makes it clear “that honest reporting of facts is a crime in its eyes, and that it will stop at nothing in its attempts to silence the voices of people seeking to inform, protect and give an opportunity to speak out to their compatriots. , citizens of Russia “.
Recall that the “black list” included the chairman of the national public organization “For Human Rights”, 79-year-old (!) Lev Ponomarev, activist from St. Petersburg Daria Apakhonchich, journalists Lyudmila Savitskaya, Sergei Markelov, editor-in-chief of the “Pskov province” Denis Kamalyagin. The Ministry of Justice does not name the reasons for their inclusion in the register..
Deputy of the Pskov Regional Assembly Lev Shlosberg wrote on his Facebook page about this: “Lyudmila Savitskaya and Denis Kamalyagin work in Pskov and write about Russian provincial life the truth that is well known to society, which cannot be found in state propaganda, filled with lies, flattery and meanness. … It is for the truth of the publications that Savitskaya and Kamalyagin were marked with a “yellow star” for a foreign agent “.
According to Lev Schlosberg, any person with a sense of personal dignity becomes a foreign agent in a totalitarian state..
Galina Arapova: “Russian legislators in their zeal have long crossed the line”
Director and leading lawyer of the Center for the Protection of Media Rights Galina Arapova, in a commentary for the Russian service of the Voice of America, noted that one can only guess on what principle the “five” was formed. At the same time, it is obvious that the adoption of this law set much broader goals..
“As far as I know, both Sergei Markelov and Denis Kamulyagin are still wondering why they are so“ happy ”,” she added. – They did not receive any official papers. What caused this decision was not explained to them. Most likely, everything can become clear when they begin to appeal this decision, and the Ministry of Justice will be forced to provide at least some justification. “.
The persons included in the “black list” already have the right to file an administrative claim, stated Galina Arapova: “It’s a paradox, but they all stood on the same line with Radio Liberty and Voice of America. Now Lyudmila Savitskaya, Lev Ponomarev and others are “foreign media”. But these are still flowers. Today everyone who has a pronounced civic position and expresses it not in a whisper in the kitchen can be shoved into the register. And from next March, when the new law comes into force, the potential “black list” will expand even more. “.
Outrage is not only the aggressiveness of the law, but also the selectivity of its application, says the director and leading lawyer of the Center for the Protection of Media Rights. “On formal grounds, it is now possible to include, say, even Nikita Mikhalkov in the register if he has any funding from outside,” she explained. – In principle, compensation to the director for a trip to some international festival will be quite enough here. However, I believe that such an incident will not happen to him. Worse, it can happen to thousands of other people – teachers, scientists, experts. “.
Russian lawmakers in their zeal have long crossed the line of reason and brought the matter to the point of absurdity, summed up Galina Arapova.
Ilya Shablinsky: “This is a vile label”
Deputy Head of the Department of Constitutional and Municipal Law at the Higher School of Economics, Professor Ilya Shablinsky agrees that, in accordance with the new laws, almost any Russian can now be included in the register of foreign agents. In addition, in his opinion, this contradicts Article 21 of the Constitution that nothing can humiliate human dignity..
“And this status clearly degrades human dignity,” says the interlocutor of the Voice of America. – Let me remind you that in this case we are no longer talking about legal entities, but about individuals. They are assigned the status of a mass media. This is a sneaky label “.

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In Russia, a step has actually been taken towards the type of state where people were forced to cling to “yellow stars” on their clothes, the professor stressed. At the same time, it seems to him that the first five “outcasts” were chosen quite arbitrarily.
“I think that the main target was Ilya Ponomarev, who today obviously irritates the authorities,” he admitted. – Obviously, we will eventually go to the Constitutional Court. Although his decision is easily predictable. But you need to use all legal instruments “.
At the same time, the lawyer found it difficult to say how widely the law will be applied. But, if someone at the top really wants to, then, probably, such an option is possible, when Russian citizens unwanted by the authorities will be massively adjusted to it, concluded Ilya Shablinsky.

  • Victor Vladimirov

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