Civil rights

Moscow declares civil rights portal “foreign agent”

Russian authorities are using a foreign funding law to crack down on critical media and non-governmental organizations. It will be used again after the legislative elections.

Moscow (dpa) – Russian authorities have included the civil rights portal Owd-Info in the controversial register of “foreign agents”. This is what emerges from a communication from the Russian Ministry of Justice on Wednesday evening.

Owd-Info criticized this on social network Telegram as an “act of political pressure”. The Russian non-governmental organization records arrests during protests criticizing the government and provides legal support.

Several journalists, including the founder of the independent portal Mediazona, Pyotr Verilov, and the editor-in-chief Sergei Smirnov, have also been declared “foreign agents”. Spokeswoman for jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny Kira Jarmysch wrote on Twitter that the “foreign agents” law has now become a “universal stick” for the Kremlin in the fight against critics.

According to the controversial law, media and non-governmental organizations in Russia must register as “foreign agents” if they finance themselves with money from abroad. Moscow justifies this by protecting itself against political interference in internal affairs. Critics, on the other hand, deplore that the organizations and individuals concerned are thus stigmatized and that the demands are often difficult to satisfy.

The civil rights portal Owd-Info, now concerned, had recently reported more than 100 arrests in the context of protests against the result of the Russian parliamentary elections. The Communist Party called for unauthorized rallies, which finished second behind the Kremlin United Russia Party with 18.9% of the vote about a week and a half ago.

Communists consider the votes cast online by Moscow voters to be manipulated and do not recognize their results. In this context, they say they have already filed 29 lawsuits, which are however unlikely to succeed. In protest, Communist deputies also boycotted a session of the Moscow city parliament on Wednesday.