News / Europe

Putin Introduces Measures to Curb Political Opposition

 Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses Russian Ambassadors during their meeting in the Foreign Ministry, in Moscow, July 9, 2012.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses Russian Ambassadors during their meeting in the Foreign Ministry, in Moscow, July 9, 2012.
James Brooke
MOSCOW — For months, presidential candidate Vladimir Putin had to put up with protests.  Now, President Putin is fighting back.

First, he pushed through a law dramatically raising fines for protest organizers.  Now, he is pushing through a law that would require all foreign-funded non governmental groups, NGO's in Russia to carry the label: 'foreign agent.'

This would apply to the Russia chapters of such groups as: Amnesty International, Transparency International, and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Kremlin Labels Foreign-Funded NGOs 'Foreign Agents'i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
James Brooke
July 09, 2012 5:16 PM
Two months after Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin, Russia's president has introduced a series of measures to curb Russia's political opposition. VOA's James Brooke reports from Moscow the measures are due to come to a final vote before the Duma, then Federation Council, in coming days.
In 1976, Lyudmila Alexeyeva helped to set up the Moscow Helsinki Group to monitor human rights violations in the Soviet Union. Now 84, Alexeyeva says she prefers to let Putin shut the group down, rather than accept the label of 'foreign agent."

"I strongly declare to you that the Moscow Helsinki Group will never register as a agent of a foreign government, she said in an interview in her central Moscow apartment, because we are not an agent of a foreign government."
 
Olga Lenkova comes from the new generation of Russian dissidents. She works with Vykhod, or Coming Out, a St. Petersburg gay rights group. She says that the all-powerful Kremlin scares Russians away from giving money to opposition groups.

"There are a lot of NGOs that are funded from foundations that are based abroad, she said in her office in St. Peterburg. And if all of them are considered like foreign agents, then you are not supposed to criticize the government in any way. That is what our job is, to criticize the government and say things need to change."

Last week, one ruling party Duma deputy, Robert Shlegel, said that Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, should be declared a 'foreign agent.' His Gorbachev Foundation receives foreign donations.

Aleksandr Sidyakin, who sponsored the foreign agent bill, wrote on his blog : "The ultimate goal of funding nonprofit organizations, as a form of 'soft power,' is a colored revolution."  He added: "The United States is trying to affect Russian politics."

On Friday, the bill received the votes of 72 percent of members of Russia’s parliament, or Duma. A final vote is due in coming days.

The foreign agent bill comes after raids on apartments of protest organizers, arrests of protest participants and a new bill to control the Internet.

Carnegie Moscow analyst Masha Lipman says that Putin is steadily restricting freedoms in Russia in the two months since he was inaugurated to a third term as president, on May 7.

"Recently, there has been a clear trend toward a crackdown: The searchers; the raids; the new law; the ordinary protester being arrested, which is especially alarming because people identify very easily with somebody who is just a Muscovite, just a young person, just a businessman. And several of them have already been arrested.  There is clearly the trend toward the crackdown," she said.

After all these restrictions, the next test of Russia’s political opposition will come on July 26, the date for Moscow’s next big street protest.

You May Like

Obama Pledges 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Burials

Country is improving at rapid response to remote, isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace Christmas precisely because of its non-religious glamor and commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid