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

Ukraine President Appeals for More US Support

Speaking before Congress ahead of meeting with President Obama, Petro Poroshenko urges lawmakers to back Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to the Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20B in India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high-profile visit More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid