RUSSIALINK: “Russian bill on designation of private individuals as foreign agents may be elaborated on – Putin” – Interfax

Russian State Duma Building file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 10 (Interfax) – The Russian draft legislation introducing criteria for designating private individuals as foreign agents could be adjusted to enhance the legal mechanisms of its enforcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

“We assume that this doesn’t envision prohibitive steps on the state’s part. If you think there are some risks there and if the principal aspects of this legislation are not clear enough in terms of legal wording, certainly, this needs to be elaborated on, I agree,” Putin said at a meeting with members of the presidential Civil Society Development and Human Rights Council on Thursday.

He also commented on a proposal that foreign agents might join public councils of government bodies.

“Certainly, this sounds a bit odd. I can’t imagine that foreign agents in the United States come and demand that they be admitted to the State Department’s public council. Well, it’s ridiculous even to talk about that. Or, for instance, to the Department of Homeland Security. Do you understand that this is ridiculous? This is just unimaginable. You can imagine that such things could be discussed in our country, but it’s just beyond comprehension that this could be possible there,” Putin said.

He mentioned recent cases of Russian citizens being imprisoned on charges of acting as foreign agents.

“Without any reasons, they just kept them in prison and frightened them with lengthy prison terms,” Putin said.

Nevertheless, he agreed that, if the above-mentioned risks of enforcement exist, the problem should be analyzed more thoroughly.

“It would be wrong if this somehow restricts the people and their activities. We’ve always insisted only on one thing: we should make sure that foreign states cannot interfere in our internal affairs, which they actively work on. Well, we know that. Why, they give money to promote their agenda in our domestic political affairs,” he said.

Therefore, this should be prevented on the one hand, but no excessive restrictions should be allowed on the other, he said.

“But I can’t disagree with you, let’s think about it, and I’ll ask my office and the State Duma deputies to take a closer look at this,” Putin said.