The Russian Ministry of Justice has included eight other people in the register of media outlets acting as “foreign agents”, including The Bell founder Elizaveta Osetinskaya, Dozhd TV journalist Maria Borzunova and publicist Yevgeny Ponasenkov.
Among those recognized as foreign agents were The Bell editor-in-chief Irina Malkova, Mediazone journalist * * Alla Konstantinova, psychologist Anna Golubeva, Dagestani journalist Murad Muradov, and alleged Komi Communist Party faction leader Viktor Vorobyov.
* “Mediazone” and the “Rain” TV channel, which suspended its broadcasting, were previously included in the list of media outlets acting as “foreign agents”.
Created by Ossetian and Malkova, The Bell specializes in news and commentary from Russia, focusing on exclusive sources. Evgeny Ponasenkov – historian and publicist, Maria Borzunova – correspondent of “Rain”, covering events in Ukraine and Belarus.
After that, the leaders of other factions in their statement condemned Vorobyov for the video address, and the State Council deprived the deputy of the right to speak at two meetings for “violation of parliamentary ethics.” On March 6, police detained Vorobyov on a street in St. Petersburg, the court sentenced him to 15 days in jail for “participating in a simultaneous mass movement that violated sanitary norms,” and his appeal in this case has not yet been considered.
If the Ministry of Justice has indeed included deputy Vorobyov in the register of media “foreign agents”, this is the first case of granting such a status to a representative of the government. However, there is no complete certainty that he is included in the register – only the last name, first name and patronymic are indicated there.
According to Vorobyov, he has not received foreign funding since the amendments to the law on the status of foreign media agents came into force in 2020. Notices of inclusion in the register were also not sent to Vorobyov. The Ministry of Justice must send notifications to new “foreign agents” no later than April 6.
This is the first this year to add to the list of media “foreign agents”, except for the inclusion in the register of LLCs, which forces journalists to create a law.
On December 30, 2021, the list was expanded to 111 positions, and a year ago it had only 17 lines, including five people.
Before the new year, the register of “foreign agents” included gallery owner Marat Gelman, satirist Viktor Shenderovich, editor-in-chief of “Kholod” Taisiya Bekbulatova, Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Veronika Nikulshina, as well as Yaroslavl publicist Andrei Alekseev .
Shenderovich then announced his departure from Russia, linking him to a criminal defamation case against him.
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Year of “foreign agents”
Last year, the number of media “foreign agents” rose sharply – both at the expense of journalists and the media. The popular edition of Medusa and many other mass media recognized the “agents”. After being recognized as a “foreign agent” by the Dozhd TV channel, a few protests took place in Moscow and other cities in the summer. Journalists signed petitions and demanded the repeal of the law on “foreign agents”.
The largest replenishment of the register took place on September 29, when 24 new lines were added to it. At that time, Mediazon, its editor-in-chief Sergei Smirnov and publisher Peter Verzilov, as well as a number of electoral experts who collaborated with the Voice movement (recognized as an unregistered association acting as an “foreign agent”) were declared “foreign agents.”
On December 3, the ministry recruited four journalists, former or current Idel.Reali employees. Then there were more than 100 positions in the register. “Idel.Realii” is a project of the Tatar-Bashkir service “Radio Svoboda”. Radio Svoboda and Idel.Realii became the first media outlets to be declared “foreign agents” in Russia (back in December 2017).
At the end of November, Sota Vision Editor-in-Chief Oleg Elanchik was added to the register of “foreign agents”. On November 12, LGBT activist Igor Kochetkov entered the register. On November 8, Ivan Pavlov, a lawyer who left Russia, and his colleagues were added to the register of “foreign agents,” and on October 15, Republic and Rosbalt were added.
On October 8, the ministry expanded the list by 12 points at once, recognizing the media as “foreign agents” for three online publications and nine individuals. Most of them are journalists, including Andrei Zakharov, a correspondent for the BBC’s Russian Service. On January 7, 2022, Zakharov’s status was suspended by a court decision until the end of the lawsuit filed by Andrei.
What was said in the Kremlin
On December 23, the BBC’s Russian Service correspondent Peter Kozlov asked President Vladimir Putin at an annual press conference what had happened in Russia recently, which had led to a significant increase in those whom the authorities considered extremists, undesirable organizations and “foreign agents “.
“I agree with you that there is nothing good. But let me remind you again, this law was not invented by us,” Putin said, referring to the US law on foreign agents.
There are about 0.034 only organizations recognized as “foreign agents”. Can you imagine what a surprise? We also have 0.034, the same amount. And what’s the difference? years of imprisonment, “he said.
“We do not have anything like that. We do not ban the work of these organizations, we just want organizations that are engaged in domestic political activities in Russia to clearly and clearly state the sources of funding for their activities,” Putin added.
The next day, journalists reminded his spokesman Dmitry Peskov that under Russian law, an individual faces up to two years in prison and a leader for up to five years for maliciously evading a foreign agent. “American law is even about serious violations,” Peskov countered, assuring reporters that Putin possessed “all the nuances of our legislation.”
One of the essential differences of American law is that in order to obtain the status of a “foreign agent” in the United States you need to receive money from the budget of another state, and in Russia you can become an agent by receiving money from any foreign source.
On December 9 last year, members of the Presidential Council for Human Rights discussed the situation with “foreign agents” with Putin.
On January 29, 2022, Putin instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to analyze the legislation on foreign agents by May 1. Putin said back in October that he had met with members of the Valdai club that the “blurred criteria” of the law needed to be revised. But he strongly disagreed with the fact that in 2021 “foreign agents” began to be recorded “in a carpet way”.