Venice Commission recommends Russia to revise the law on foreign agents

The European Commission “For Democracy Through Law” (Venice Commission) analyzed the Russian foreign agents law. Commission recommended abandoning the latest amendments and replacing the term “foreign agent” with a more neutral one. Commission also recommended to use the language that would actually describe foreign interference instead of the concepts of “political activity” and “foreign support”.

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“The Venice Commission recommends Russian authorities to abandon the special registration, reporting and public disclosure requirements for associations, media and individuals receiving “foreign support”… The stigmatizing and misleading term “foreign agent” should be abandoned in favor a more neutral definition” – says the Venice Commission report

The Commission believes that liquidation of non-profit organizations is possible  only in case of extreme violations that threaten democracy. It also spoke out against forced labor and imprisonment for violating registration and reporting requirements.

The Venice Commission believes that the law on foreign agents may have a negative impact on “the free exercise of civil and political rights in the country”.

In 2014, the Venice Commission has already analyzed the foreign agents law. Then Comission also recommended Russia to abandon the use of the term “foreign agent”, stressing that he “stigmatizes the NPOs to which it is applied, denigrates their reputation and seriously constrains their activities.” However, in Russia, the concept of “foreign agent” was not only not abandoned, but the scope of its application was expanded.

Photo venice.coe.int