Solidarity with the persecuted groups in Russia

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=== Background ===
 
=== Background ===
In the United States of America a [[w:Foreign Agents Registration Act|similar law]]<ref name="FARA">http://www.fara.gov/fara-faq.html - gesichtet 1. Juli 2014</ref> exists enacted 1938 as a measure against Third Reich propagandists. The description of elements of an offense, registration enforcement and threat of imprisonment sound similar. To date in the USA this regulation originally declared an anti-Nazi law is still in force. Later the law was amended several times, and used for instance for the anti-Cuba policy of the US government.<ref>https://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Foreign_Agents_Registration_Act&oldid=128916972 as of May 25, 2014</ref> In Russia in 2012<ref>In spring 2012 the "foreign agent" regulation was accepted by the State Duma (Lower house of the Russian parliament), president Putin signed it on June Juli, and on November 21 of the same year it came into effect.<br/>http://in.rbth.com/articles/2012/12/28/russian_ngo_opts_to_be_registered_as_foreign_agent_21199.html as of May 25, 2014<br/>http://rbth.co.uk/news/2013/04/25/golos_association_ordered_to_pay_fine_for_failing_to_register_as_foreign_25447.html as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref name="ngos">http://in.rbth.com/articles/2012/11/24/ngos_to_fight_law_branding_them_foreign_agents_19297.html as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref>http://solidarity-russia.org/ as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref>http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2012-07/putin-ngo-gesetz as of May 25, 2014</ref> this idea was copied<ref>http://rbth.asia/articles/2012/07/09/ngos_must_register_as_foreign_agents_15707.html as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref name="controversy">http://rbth.asia/politics/2013/09/12/foreign_agents_label_continues_to_attract_controversy_48755.html as of May 25, 2014</ref>, but is directed primarily not against Nazis, but against any kind of political active organizations and their activists.<ref name="zeit-ngo">http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2012-07/russland-ngo-gesetz as of June 26, 2014</ref>
+
In the United States of America a [[w:Foreign Agents Registration Act|similar law]]<ref name="FARA">http://www.fara.gov/fara-faq.html - gesichtet 1. Juli 2014</ref> exists enacted 1938 as a measure against Third Reich propagandists. The description of elements of an offense, registration enforcement and threat of imprisonment sound similar. To date in the USA this regulation originally declared an anti-Nazi law is still in force. Later the law was amended several times, and used for instance for the anti-Cuba policy of the US government.<ref name="US-act">https://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Foreign_Agents_Registration_Act&oldid=128916972 as of May 25, 2014</ref> In Russia in 2012<ref>In spring 2012 the "foreign agent" regulation was accepted by the State Duma (Lower house of the Russian parliament), president Putin signed it on June Juli, and on November 21 of the same year it came into effect.<br/>http://in.rbth.com/articles/2012/12/28/russian_ngo_opts_to_be_registered_as_foreign_agent_21199.html as of May 25, 2014<br/>http://rbth.co.uk/news/2013/04/25/golos_association_ordered_to_pay_fine_for_failing_to_register_as_foreign_25447.html as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref name="ngos">http://in.rbth.com/articles/2012/11/24/ngos_to_fight_law_branding_them_foreign_agents_19297.html as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref>http://solidarity-russia.org/ as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref name="zeit-putin-ngo">http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2012-07/putin-ngo-gesetz as of May 25, 2014</ref> this idea was copied<ref name="rbth-register">http://rbth.asia/articles/2012/07/09/ngos_must_register_as_foreign_agents_15707.html as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref name="controversy">http://rbth.asia/politics/2013/09/12/foreign_agents_label_continues_to_attract_controversy_48755.html as of May 25, 2014</ref>, but is directed primarily not against Nazis, but against any kind of political active organizations and their activists.<ref name="zeit-ngo">http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2012-07/russland-ngo-gesetz as of June 26, 2014</ref>
  
However, relevant differences speak against justifying the Russian persecution of NGOs as "foreign agents" with the US "Foreign Agents Registration Act" (FARA), as the Russian government<ref name="rbth-register" /> does in public. While the US law aims basically on individuals<ref name="FARA" /> (and in this connection explicitly on foreign citizens)<ref name="FARA" /><ref name="rbth-register" />)<ref name="US-act" /> becoming active inside the United States, the Russian law exclusively has Russian non-governmental organizations<ref name="ngos" /><ref name="zeit-putin-ngo" /><ref name="rbth-register" />  in the focus. Thus, it is about the oppression of domestic engagement of their "own" citizens respectively their organizations. Scientific, religious, artistic and humanitarian activities in the USA are not targeted by FARA<ref name="US-act" /> - in contrast, in Russia organizations from those fields are definitely in the focus of the "foreign agent" legislation<ref name="rbth-register" /><ref name="controversy" />, and humanitarian NGOs actually experience this persecution systematicly. Besides, the term of a "foreign agent" has a quite different meaning in the two countries. While in English linguistic usage the word "agent" doesn't aim that much on espionage, but means representatives of certain interests (e.g. commercial agent etc.), in the Russian discourse it means foreign spies<ref name="ngos" /><ref name="controversy" /> linking to a term formed in Cold War propaganda<ref name="controversy" />, and according to polls a majority of the population<ref name="ngos" />  still understands it this way. Whereas in the USA "foreign agents" are simply people acting in the interest of foreign bodies, in Russia the word in recognized in military sense as "foreign spy"<ref name="rbth-register" />. Apparently, no organization whose work is addressing the general public and which wants to practise enlightenment, can actually exist with such label<ref name="ngos" /><ref name="zeit-putin-ngo" /><ref name="controversy" />.
+
However, relevant differences speak against justifying the Russian persecution of NGOs as "foreign agents" with the US "Foreign Agents Registration Act" (FARA), as the Russian government<ref name="rbth-register" /> does in public. While the US law aims basically on individuals<ref name="FARA" /> (and in this connection explicitly on foreign citizens<ref name="FARA" /><ref name="rbth-register" />)<ref name="US-act" /> becoming active inside the United States, the Russian law exclusively has Russian non-governmental organizations<ref name="ngos" /><ref name="zeit-putin-ngo" /><ref name="rbth-register" />  in the focus. Thus, it is about the oppression of domestic engagement of their "own" citizens respectively their organizations. Scientific, religious, artistic and humanitarian activities in the USA are not targeted by FARA<ref name="US-act" /> - in contrast, in Russia organizations from those fields are definitely in the focus of the "foreign agent" legislation<ref name="rbth-register" /><ref name="controversy" />, and humanitarian NGOs actually experience this persecution systematicly. Besides, the term of a "foreign agent" has a quite different meaning in the two countries. While in English linguistic usage the word "agent" doesn't aim that much on espionage, but means representatives of certain interests (e.g. commercial agent etc.), in the Russian discourse it means foreign spies<ref name="ngos" /><ref name="controversy" /> linking to a term formed in Cold War propaganda<ref name="controversy" />, and according to polls a majority of the population<ref name="ngos" />  still understands it this way. Whereas in the USA "foreign agents" are simply people acting in the interest of foreign bodies, in Russia the word in recognized in military sense as "foreign spy"<ref name="rbth-register" />. Apparently, no organization whose work is addressing the general public and which wants to practise enlightenment, can actually exist with such label<ref name="ngos" /><ref name="zeit-putin-ngo" /><ref name="controversy" />.
  
Organizations engaging for the protection of human rights were one of the main targets of the "foreign agent" legislation<ref name="7x7">http://7x7-journal.ru/post/42651 as of May 28, 2014</ref>. The law had been created after the protests against irregularities during the Russian presidential elections in March 2012, where election observation NGOs had accompanied the process critically and indicated manipulations<ref name="zeit-gesetzt" /><ref>http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2012-03/russland-praesidentschaftswahl-betrug as of June 26, 2014</ref><ref name="zeit-ngo" />. The Russian president Vladimir Putin imputed the strong protest movement to be initiated by the West. Before the introduction of the "foreign agent" law he already had initiated a drastic aggravation of the right to demonstrate.<ref name="zeit-ngo" />
+
Organizations engaging for the protection of human rights were one of the main targets of the "foreign agent" legislation<ref name="7x7">http://7x7-journal.ru/post/42651 as of May 28, 2014</ref>. The law had been created after the protests against irregularities during the Russian presidential elections in March 2012<ref name="ngos" />, where election observation NGOs had accompanied the process critically and indicated manipulations<ref name="zeit-gesetzt" /><ref>http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2012-03/russland-praesidentschaftswahl-betrug as of June 26, 2014</ref><ref name="zeit-ngo" />. The Russian president Vladimir Putin imputed the strong protest movement to be initiated by the West. Before the introduction of the "foreign agent" law he already had initiated a drastic aggravation of the right to demonstrate.<ref name="zeit-ngo" />
  
[http://www.thefreedictionary.com/foreign+agent "The Free Dictionary" explains "foreign agent"] as "(military) a secret agent hired by a state to obtain information about its enemies or by a business to obtain industrial secrets from competitors". "Spy" and "undercover agent" are offered as synonyms.<ref> http://www.thefreedictionary.com/foreign+agent as of May 25, 2014</ref> According to the Russian definition "foreign agents" are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) receiving sponsorship or other support from abroad<ref>http://www.transparency.org.ru/en/news/threats-to-civil-society-space as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref name="zeit-gesetzt" /> and being politically active<ref name="nuclear-heritage">http://www.nuclear-heritage.net/index.php?title=Update_on_repression_against_environmental_groups_in_Russia&oldid=72070 as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref name="MoscowTimes">http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/ngos-in-russia-could-be-labeled-foreign-agents-without-their-consent/501560.html as of June 14, 2014</ref><ref name="zeit-ngo" />. Due to the political situation in Russia and the financial precarious circumstances of many people there, it is obvious that political independent work without support from groups and activists in other countries is difficult. Thus, many, maybe post of these politically independent, critical organizations in Russia are threatened by the "foreign agent" law.<ref name="Gespraeche">source: talks with Russian activists in spring 2014 and the year before</ref>
+
[http://www.thefreedictionary.com/foreign+agent "The Free Dictionary" explains "foreign agent"] as "(military) a secret agent hired by a state to obtain information about its enemies or by a business to obtain industrial secrets from competitors". "Spy" and "undercover agent" are offered as synonyms.<ref> http://www.thefreedictionary.com/foreign+agent as of May 25, 2014</ref> According to the Russian definition "foreign agents" are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) receiving sponsorship or other support from abroad<ref>http://www.transparency.org.ru/en/news/threats-to-civil-society-space as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref name="zeit-gesetzt" /> and being politically active<ref name="nuclear-heritage">http://www.nuclear-heritage.net/index.php?title=Update_on_repression_against_environmental_groups_in_Russia&oldid=72070 as of May 25, 2014</ref><ref name="MoscowTimes">http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/ngos-in-russia-could-be-labeled-foreign-agents-without-their-consent/501560.html as of June 14, 2014</ref><ref name="zeit-ngo" />. Due to the political situation in Russia and the financial precarious circumstances of many people there, it is obvious that political independent work without support from groups and activists in other countries is difficult. Thus, many, maybe post of these politically independent, critical organizations in Russia are threatened by the "foreign agent" law.<ref name="Gespraeche">source: talks with Russian activists in spring 2014 and the year before</ref><ref name="rbth-register" />
  
Already in connection to the first reading of the draft of law in State Duma in July 2012 oppositional parties protested in the parliament as well as non-governmental organizations outside the building. There was also criticism against the law<ref name="rbth-register">http://rbth.asia/articles/2012/07/09/ngos_must_register_as_foreign_agents_15707.html as of May 25, 2014</ref> by Tatyana Morshchakova, one of the authors of the Russian constitution, and by the Kremlin's advisory Human Rights Council. Russian human rights organizations consider the law illegitimate and in contradiction with the basic rights<ref>http://www.constitution.ru/de/part2.htm as of June 27, 2014</ref> guaranteed by the Russian constitution<ref name="ngos" />. In the Russian lower house it had been supported already by a majority of the representatives. The governmental party "United Russia" ruling a majority in the parliament had introduced the proposal for the law. Official it is supposed to prevent foreign states to impact the Russian home affairs.<ref name="zeit-ngo" /><ref name="ngos" /><ref name="rbth-register" />
+
Already in connection to the first reading of the draft of law in State Duma in July 2012 oppositional parties protested in the parliament as well as non-governmental organizations outside the building. There was also criticism against the law<ref name="rbth-register" /> by Tatyana Morshchakova, one of the authors of the Russian constitution, and by the Kremlin's advisory Human Rights Council. Russian human rights organizations consider the law illegitimate and in contradiction with the basic rights<ref>http://www.constitution.ru/de/part2.htm as of June 27, 2014</ref> guaranteed by the Russian constitution<ref name="ngos" />. In the Russian lower house it had been supported already by a majority of the representatives. The governmental party "United Russia" ruling a majority in the parliament had introduced the proposal for the law. Official it is supposed to prevent foreign states to impact the Russian home affairs.<ref name="zeit-ngo" /><ref name="ngos" /><ref name="rbth-register" />
  
  

Revision as of 11:59, 3 July 2014

Two solidarity campaigns have been started to support NGOs affected by the latest persecution under the "foreign agent" law in Russia. In Germany a campaign informs about the repression and political background, collects donations for the affected groups, spreads the word about concrete cases and activates groups to express their solidarity. Currently they focus on the persecution of "Humanistic Youth Movement" (GDM) and the already as "foreign agent" declared "Ecodefense. Additionally an international solidarity campaign has been initiated by anti-nuclear activists demanding Ecodefense's acquittal of the "foreign agent" stigmatization in a multi-lingual appeal.

Since some time progressive Russian groups and activists are under oppression by the state's authorities[1]. With the "foreign agent" and "extremism"[2] laws instruments have been created to suppress and eliminate organizations and movements being critical to the state, but also any others bothering the political powers[3][2][4][5]. In this context legal organizations de facto get prohibited if they are classified "foreign agents", because under these circumstances the continuation of work is almost impossible. With vague accusations of extremism even individuals who made critical statements were threatened with perennial imprisonment and virtually vanished into thin air. Environmental and human rights groups as well as other progressive organizations shall be stigmatized spies[6] and discredited publicly[1].

Background

In the United States of America a similar law[7] exists enacted 1938 as a measure against Third Reich propagandists. The description of elements of an offense, registration enforcement and threat of imprisonment sound similar. To date in the USA this regulation originally declared an anti-Nazi law is still in force. Later the law was amended several times, and used for instance for the anti-Cuba policy of the US government.[8] In Russia in 2012[9][10][11][12] this idea was copied[13][14], but is directed primarily not against Nazis, but against any kind of political active organizations and their activists.[15]

However, relevant differences speak against justifying the Russian persecution of NGOs as "foreign agents" with the US "Foreign Agents Registration Act" (FARA), as the Russian government[13] does in public. While the US law aims basically on individuals[7] (and in this connection explicitly on foreign citizens[7][13])[8] becoming active inside the United States, the Russian law exclusively has Russian non-governmental organizations[10][12][13] in the focus. Thus, it is about the oppression of domestic engagement of their "own" citizens respectively their organizations. Scientific, religious, artistic and humanitarian activities in the USA are not targeted by FARA[8] - in contrast, in Russia organizations from those fields are definitely in the focus of the "foreign agent" legislation[13][14], and humanitarian NGOs actually experience this persecution systematicly. Besides, the term of a "foreign agent" has a quite different meaning in the two countries. While in English linguistic usage the word "agent" doesn't aim that much on espionage, but means representatives of certain interests (e.g. commercial agent etc.), in the Russian discourse it means foreign spies[10][14] linking to a term formed in Cold War propaganda[14], and according to polls a majority of the population[10] still understands it this way. Whereas in the USA "foreign agents" are simply people acting in the interest of foreign bodies, in Russia the word in recognized in military sense as "foreign spy"[13]. Apparently, no organization whose work is addressing the general public and which wants to practise enlightenment, can actually exist with such label[10][12][14].

Organizations engaging for the protection of human rights were one of the main targets of the "foreign agent" legislation[16]. The law had been created after the protests against irregularities during the Russian presidential elections in March 2012[10], where election observation NGOs had accompanied the process critically and indicated manipulations[6][17][15]. The Russian president Vladimir Putin imputed the strong protest movement to be initiated by the West. Before the introduction of the "foreign agent" law he already had initiated a drastic aggravation of the right to demonstrate.[15]

"The Free Dictionary" explains "foreign agent" as "(military) a secret agent hired by a state to obtain information about its enemies or by a business to obtain industrial secrets from competitors". "Spy" and "undercover agent" are offered as synonyms.[18] According to the Russian definition "foreign agents" are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) receiving sponsorship or other support from abroad[19][6] and being politically active[20][21][15]. Due to the political situation in Russia and the financial precarious circumstances of many people there, it is obvious that political independent work without support from groups and activists in other countries is difficult. Thus, many, maybe post of these politically independent, critical organizations in Russia are threatened by the "foreign agent" law.[22][13]

Already in connection to the first reading of the draft of law in State Duma in July 2012 oppositional parties protested in the parliament as well as non-governmental organizations outside the building. There was also criticism against the law[13] by Tatyana Morshchakova, one of the authors of the Russian constitution, and by the Kremlin's advisory Human Rights Council. Russian human rights organizations consider the law illegitimate and in contradiction with the basic rights[23] guaranteed by the Russian constitution[10]. In the Russian lower house it had been supported already by a majority of the representatives. The governmental party "United Russia" ruling a majority in the parliament had introduced the proposal for the law. Official it is supposed to prevent foreign states to impact the Russian home affairs.[15][10][13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 http://www.linksnet.de/de/artikel/31300 as of May 25, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 http://www.dw.de/russland-extremismusgesetze-weiter-versch%C3%A4rft/a-2680190-1 as of May 30, 2014
  3. http://www.handelsblatt.com/meinung/gastbeitraege/nina-chrustschowa-putins-anti-extremismus-gesetz/7552500-2.html as of May 30, 2014
  4. http://www.sova-center.ru/en/misuse/ as of June 13, 2014
  5. http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2012-07/russland-ngo-gesetz-2 as of June 26, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2012-07/russland-gesetz-agenten as of June 26, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 http://www.fara.gov/fara-faq.html - gesichtet 1. Juli 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 https://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Foreign_Agents_Registration_Act&oldid=128916972 as of May 25, 2014
  9. In spring 2012 the "foreign agent" regulation was accepted by the State Duma (Lower house of the Russian parliament), president Putin signed it on June Juli, and on November 21 of the same year it came into effect.
    http://in.rbth.com/articles/2012/12/28/russian_ngo_opts_to_be_registered_as_foreign_agent_21199.html as of May 25, 2014
    http://rbth.co.uk/news/2013/04/25/golos_association_ordered_to_pay_fine_for_failing_to_register_as_foreign_25447.html as of May 25, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 http://in.rbth.com/articles/2012/11/24/ngos_to_fight_law_branding_them_foreign_agents_19297.html as of May 25, 2014
  11. http://solidarity-russia.org/ as of May 25, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2012-07/putin-ngo-gesetz as of May 25, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 13.8 http://rbth.asia/articles/2012/07/09/ngos_must_register_as_foreign_agents_15707.html as of May 25, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 http://rbth.asia/politics/2013/09/12/foreign_agents_label_continues_to_attract_controversy_48755.html as of May 25, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2012-07/russland-ngo-gesetz as of June 26, 2014
  16. http://7x7-journal.ru/post/42651 as of May 28, 2014
  17. http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2012-03/russland-praesidentschaftswahl-betrug as of June 26, 2014
  18. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/foreign+agent as of May 25, 2014
  19. http://www.transparency.org.ru/en/news/threats-to-civil-society-space as of May 25, 2014
  20. http://www.nuclear-heritage.net/index.php?title=Update_on_repression_against_environmental_groups_in_Russia&oldid=72070 as of May 25, 2014
  21. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/ngos-in-russia-could-be-labeled-foreign-agents-without-their-consent/501560.html as of June 14, 2014
  22. source: talks with Russian activists in spring 2014 and the year before
  23. http://www.constitution.ru/de/part2.htm as of June 27, 2014

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