European concerns over Russia's 'foreign agents' law
A Council of Europe lawmaker on Wednesday called on Russia to repeal legislation to force non-Russian NGOs to register as "foreign agents”.

Yves Cruchten, a member of the council’s parliamentary assembly, demanded the Russian parliament, or Duma, "align their legislation on NGOs with international legal standards”.

In January, the assembly, which oversees the European Court of Human Rights, adopted a report by Cruchten expressing concern over the law on "undesirable organizations” which it said could lead to the closure of international NGOs.

"I call, yet again, on Russian lawmakers to align their legislation on NGOs with international legal standards,” Cruchten said in a statement on Wednesday.

Rights groups fear the legislation is aimed at suppressing activists campaigning for human rights in Russia and have compared it to Soviet-era regulation.

"The definition of ‘political activity’ under the law is so broad and vague that it can extend to all aspects of advocacy and human rights work,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in an April 16 online report.

The group added that the term "foreign agent” could be used as a synonym for "spy” or "traitor” under the legislation.

By March, the Ministry of Justice had registered 122 groups as "foreign agents”, including pro-democracy and free speech groups.

Last Modified: 2016-05-05 10:45:08
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