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Press FreedomRussian Federation

EU slams Russia's 'continued crackdown' on journalists

July 23, 2021

Russia's attempts to suppress independent media and NGOs through the "foreign agents" law is particularly alarming ahead of the legislative elections, an EU spokesperson said.

Journalists and security forces during a rally in Moscow.
Russian security forces have also cracked down on opposition protestersImage: Alexey Maishev/Sputnik/dpa/picture alliance

The European Union on Thursday condemned Russian authorities' recent clampdown on independent media and civil society organizations.

The Kremlin silencing dissent and opposition "is particularly worrisome ahead of the State Duma elections in September," an EU spokesperson said late Thursday.

"The European Union stands in solidarity with Russian civil society, human rights defenders and independent journalists and will continue to support them in their important work," said Nabila Massrali, a spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs envoy Josep Borrell. 

In a statement about Russia's "continued crackdown" on dissent, Massrali noted that Russia's labeling of several NGOs and media outlets as "undesirable organizations" and "foreign agents" forced them to cease working. 

The EU criticized Russia's decision to classify the Institute of Law and Public Policy (ILPP) think tank and several journalists as foreign agents and to declare the Project Media outlet an undesirable organization.

Russia: Kremlin faces criticism

What is Russia's 'foreign agents' law?

In December last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law expanding a 2012 legislation that allowed officials to label foreign-backed NGOs and media outlets as foreign agents.

Under the law, authorities also hold power to label individuals foreign agents and hand them jail terms if they fail to report their activities correctly.

Individuals gathering information that could be used against Russia's national security could also be subject to the designation.

The term "foreign agent" carries negative Soviet-era connotations in Russia.

Russian authorities have used the law to crack down on dissent, civil society groups, journalists and bloggers.

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