On June 9, Russian court declared the Anti-Corruption Foundation an extremist organization. Before that it was declared as a foreign agent. Earlier, the Russian court actually banned the activities of the human rights structure “Open Russia”, considering it an undesirable organization. In January 2019, 11 people from Penza and St. Petersburg who were doing airsoft and adhered to anarchist views were convicted of terrorism. So, how terrorists differ from extremists, and foreign agents – from undesirable organizations?
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According to the Criminal Code, an organization is considered a terrorist organization if it justifies, supports or commits actions aimed at intimidating the population and creating the danger of human death, causing significant property damage to destabilize the activities of the authorities, as well as the threat of such actions. So, the hijacking of an airplane, the taking of hostages and the explosion of a car / building can be unambiguously defined as a terrorist attack, and its perpetrators as terrorists. The hostage-taking in the Beslan school or in the cinema on Dubrovka are clearly terrorist attacks. Also terrorists are those who engage in military activities outside government agencies and are engaged in theft of nuclear materials.
Is the Russian system really so unstable that it can be destroyed by shooting plastic balls in the forest?
The concept of extremism includes, among other things, the justification of terrorism. It is also incitement to hatred or enmity, humiliation of the dignity of a person or a group of persons on the basis of gender, race, nationality, language, origin, attitude to religion, as well as belonging to any social group, committed in public. This is a demonstration of Nazi symbols and prohibited paraphernalia. Now, even the image of a swastika, not for educational purposes, can lead you to a fine or even to prison.
The website of the Ministry of Justice contains a list of more than 80 religious, human rights and patriotic associations, football movements and parties. All of them were recognized as extremist (not in line with the “general line of the party and government”).
What kind of repression can await the leaders and supporters of such organizations. Supporters (everyone who donated, helped with advice or in any other way) will not be able to stand for elections at any level (for three years) – municipal, regional and federal. For a public demonstration of the symbols of “extremist” organizations, supporters will be punished with a fine of up to 2,000 rubles or administrative arrest for up to 15 days. Moreover, if the court decides that one of the organization’s supporters transferred funds to it after it was recognized as “extremist”, he will face a large fine (300-700 thousand rubles) or up to eight years in prison. In addition, these people may be included in the list of terrorists and extremists of Rosfinmonitoring, after what their bank accounts will be blocked and they will not be allowed to spend more than ten thousand rubles a month for each family member. Employees (or volunteers) of this organizations will also not be able to participate in any elections (for 3 years). If they continue to work in an organization that has been recognized as “extremist”, they will face punishment – up to 6 years in prison. Former leaders will also not be able to participate in the elections (for 5 years). In addition, for 10 years they will not be able to establish non-profit organizations in Russia, as well as public and religious associations. If, after being declared “extremist”, someone takes “organizational actions aimed at continuing or resuming the illegal activities of a banned organization,” he will face up to 10 years in prison. Such person also runs the risk of being included in the list of terrorists and extremists. As for the media, each time mentioning such an organization in their materials, they will have to write that this organization is extremist (without this remark – a fine of up to 50 thousand rubles). Also, the law prohibits the media from disseminating “extremist materials” (any materials from an organization recognized as «extremist»). Here the punishment will be tougher – a fine of up to one million rubles or suspension of media activities for up to three months. A public demonstration of the symbols of “extremist” organizations (publication of a video or photo in the media) is punishable by a fine of up to 50 thousand rubles.
Despite the fact that the legislation contains methods of combating terrorist and extremist organizations, the government came up with another law – “Undesirable Organizations”. You can fall under his responsibility for anything at all. Are you preparing observers for the elections? – Interference in electoral processes. Are you talking about the candidate’s business fraud? – Prevent his advance. Do you declare the need for a referendum on a socially important topic? – Get out of the country, you are undesirable here!
One of the first on the list was the Open Russia Civic Movement, created with the participation of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Today the list of the Ministry of Justice consists of 33 items. These structures are prohibited from operating in Russia, and the Russians working in them and abroad will be brought to justice. Anyone who works for an “undesirable” organization faces administrative punishment: ordinary citizens – a fine of up to 15 thousand rubles, officials – up to 50 thousand, organizations – up to 100 thousand. For multiple violations a criminal case will be initiated, and the punishment can be much harsher – from very large fines (up to 500 thousand rubles) to imprisonment from 2 to 6 years. “Unwanted” organizations are also prohibited from holding public events, storing and distributing their materials.
Who are foreign agents? A foreign agent is an individual or an association, a legal entity that receives foreign assistance and is involved in politics. Help is not just money, and participating in politics is almost anything. This is, for example, the activities of the media, trade union, human rights or charitable organization. Most recently, the independent medical union “Alliance of Doctors”, the non-profit organization “NASILYU.NET” and “Meduza” media were declared «foreign agents». According to lawmakers, a money transfer of any amount or assistance in organizing an event by a foreign citizen undermines the foundations of the constitutional order.
A person who can be recognized as an “foreign agent” must himself declare to the Ministry of Justice that he is an “agent”. After that, at least once every six months, such a person must report on his “foreign agency” activities, including the spending of foreign money. In addition, “foreign agents” must indicate in all materials they distribute that they have been assigned this status. If a potential “foreign agent” does not declare his status himself, he can be fined from 30 to 50 thousand rubles. But if he does not report the “foreign agency” even after the fine, then he risks imprisonment for up to five years.