Russia implements expanded ‘foreign agents’ law

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia on Thursday put into effect a new version of its foreign agents law that expands authorities’ powers to consider anyone under “foreign influence” to be an agent of another country.

Under previous versions of the law, officials had to show that an organization or individual had received financial or material assistance from overseas to be designated an agent. The new version of the law was signed in July by President Vladimir Putin.

“Foreign influence is considered to be ‘the provision of support by a foreign source to a person or influencing a person including by coercion, persuasion or other means’,” according to a statement from the Duma, the lower house of parliament.

The new law is the latest move in a long-running crackdown on opposition supporters, independent media and human rights activists.

The law obliges organizations to publicly identify themselves as being foreign agents; media outlets designated as agents must run a lengthy statement to that effect with their stories. Identifying themselves as agents is seen by critics as a way to try to discredit the organizations.

The new version of the law also prevents foreign agents from organizing public events, teaching in state schools and receiving state financial report, among other restrictions.

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