New law on activities of foreign agents

The law on the stricter control over the activities of foreign agents will help to protect the interests and security of the Russian Federation, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rights and freedoms of its citizens

Members of the State Duma adopted in the third reading the law “On control over the activities of persons being under foreign influence”, which will enter into force on December 1, 2022.

“Interference has taken place through the entire existence of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. We see the cases of interference even today from the US, the UK and other European states. Every country must defend itself if it thinks about its future,” emphasized the Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin Volodin Vyacheslav Victorovich Volodin
Vyacheslav Victorovich
The Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation of the eighth convocation. Elected in single mandate constituency № 163 (Saratov constituency - Saratov Oblast)
during the discussion of the law.

“We think about the future and make decisions only in the interests of the citizens of our country, our state,” stressed the Chairman of the State Duma.

“Those who dance to someone else’s tune and get paid for that, should understand that this foreign agent law is the most democratic than other countries adopt in these cases. Criminal terms, imprisonment and many other things are stipulated, if they think about how their children and grandchildren will live there in the country. If these decisions are not made, it is clear that there will be no state,” said Vyacheslav Volodin.

The co-author of the amendments, the Chairman of the Committee on Security and Corruption Control Vasily Piskarev Piskarev Vasily Ivanovich Piskarev
Vasily Ivanovich
added that the current legislation on foreign agents contains stand-alone regulations, and the new law is aimed at systemizing all the regulations and making the procedure for monitoring the activities of individuals and organizations being under foreign influence more transparent.

Who can be recognized as a foreign agent?

According to the law, a foreign agent is a person who received support from foreign states or is under foreign influence and is engaged in political activities in Russia, purposefully gathering information on military, military-technical activities of the Russian Federation or disseminating messages and materials for unlimited number of people.

The following categories may be recognized as foreign agents:

- Russian or foreign legal entity, regardless of its organizational and legal form;

- a public association operating without the formation of a legal entity, another association of individuals, a foreign structure without the formation of a legal entity;

- individuals, regardless of their nationality.

What is foreign influence?

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.”

The term “support” means the provision to a person by a foreign source of funds or other property, as well as the provision of organizational, methodological, scientific, technical or other assistance. Clear criteria for definition of foreign influence, including in other forms, will be established by the Ministry of Justice, as said Vasily Piskarev.

Foreign sources may be represented by foreign states and organizations, including international, structures without formation of a legal entity, as well as citizens of other countries and Russian legal entities and citizens already receiving foreign funding or support.

Who cannot be recognized as a foreign agent?

The law also provides for a list of persons who cannot be recognized as foreign agents:

- public authorities of the Russian Federation, state companies and state corporations, as well as persons controlled by them;

- religious organizations;

- political parties;

- associations of employers, chambers of commerce and industry.

Members of international organizations who come to Russia to perform their official duties will also not be recognized as foreign agents.

What are the restrictions for foreign agents?

Foreign agents will be obliged to inform about their status of foreign agents their employees and public authorities, to which they apply, lobbying their interests. They also have to label the materials they create.

In addition, foreign agents will not be able to do the following:

- to perform educational activities in relation to minors or pedagogical activities in state and municipal educational organizations;

- to create information products for minors;

- to take part in the government and municipal procurements of goods, works and services;

- to receive state financial support, including in the implementation of creative activities;

- to manage facilities of significant objects of critical information infrastructure and activities to ensure its security;

- to participate as experts in the conduct of the state environmental expertise.

Foreign agents will not be able to be state or municipal servants, be members of election commissions or organize public events. In addition, they will not be able to invest in strategic enterprises in Russia, use the simplified taxation system, and make donations to the election funds of candidates and political parties.

Where can information and list of foreign agents be found?

The Ministry of Justice will maintain a unified register of foreign agents, as well as a unified register of individuals affiliated with them. The latter will include founders, managers, members, participants or employees of an organization recognized as foreign agent. Individuals affiliated with foreign agents are not subject to the requirements and foreign agents restrictions.

A person receives a status of a foreign agent on the day following the day when information about such a person was included in the register of foreign agents on the official website of the Ministry of Justice, and will not have a status of foreign agent since the day when a person is excluded from the list.

What are consequences of violating the law?

In case of violating the law on foreign agents, the authorized body will have to issue an order to eliminate such violations, and this should be done during at least a month. The requirements for the form and procedure for warning about the dissemination of materials by foreign agents, according to the amendments, will be established by the Government of the Russian Federation.

In addition, violation of the legislation on foreign agents entails administrative, criminal and other liability in accordance with the established procedure.

What is the mechanism for exclusion from the list of foreign agents?

The law establishes the grounds for exclusion of a non-profit organization from the list of foreign agents. An organization must either stop receiving funds from foreign sources, or cease political activities, or fulfill both of these conditions at the same time. And following that, the organization will be excluded from the register.

Individuals included in the register for the first time are able to use a simplified procedure for being excluded from the list. Such an individual has the right to submit a free form application and attach documents confirming the cessation of the reason for inclusion in the register. The decision on this application will be made by the Minister of Justice or his Deputy.