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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the Russian "Foreign Agents" Law

17.12.2019 - (2019/2982(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 144 of the Rules of Procedure

Stelios Kouloglou, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Idoia Villanueva Ruiz, Eugenia Rodríguez Palop, Manuel Bompard, Helmut Scholz, Konstantinos Arvanitis, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Anne‑Sophie Pelletier, Niyazi Kizilyürek
on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

Procedură : 2019/2982(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the Russian "Foreign Agents" Law


The European Parliament,

 having regard to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

 having regard to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, in particular Chapter 2 on the rights and freedoms of man and citizen,

 having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Protocol thereto, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

 having regard to the Venice Commission report of 18 March 2019 on funding of associations,

 having regard to the Venice Commission opinion of 13 June 2016 on Russian Federal Law No 129-FZ (Federal law on undesirable activities of foreign and international non-governmental organisations),

  1. whereas an alarming global trend has surfaced over the last decade in which states are introducing and using laws to interfere with the right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authorities and regardless of frontiers, the freedom of assembly and association and to hamper the work of civil society organizations and individuals;  whereas at least 60 countries have put in place such laws in recent years;


  1. whereas media freedom, pluralism and independence are crucial components of the right to freedom of expression; whereas the media play an essential role in democratic society, by acting as public watchdogs, while helping to inform and empower citizens, through widening their understanding of the current political and social landscape, and fostering their conscious participation in democratic life; whereas the scope of such a role should be enlarged to encompass online and citizen journalism, as well as the work of bloggers, internet users, social media activists and human rights defenders, in order to reflect today’s profoundly changed media reality while respecting the right to privacy;


  1. whereas restrictive legislation against civil society and media reflects the broader political and cultural trends in which toxic narratives demonize “the other” and breed blame, hatred and fear, creating a fertile ground for the enactment of such laws;


  1. whereas media freedom has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade; whereas violence against journalists and authorities’ failure to identify and prosecute attackers, restrictions on media access, blocking of websites, and censorship became an particular concerning topics; whereas politicians all over the world, starting with US president Donald Trump, verbally attack the media or fail to swiftly and vigorously condemn acts of repression;


  1. whereas freedom of the press and media, both online and offline, is a crucial aspect of a democratic and open society, as well as being fundamental in countering corruption and safeguarding human rights and the rule of law;


  1. whereas journalists and other media actors still face violence, threats, harassment or public shaming mainly because of their investigative activities to protect the public interest from the misuse of power, corruption, human rights violations or criminal activities;


  1. whereas guaranteeing the safety and security of journalists and other media actors is a precondition for them to fully play their role and exercise their capacity to properly inform citizens and to participate effectively in public debate;


  1. whereas, according to the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists, more than half of the cases of abuses against media professionals are committed by state actors;


  1. whereas  a propaganda war between Russia, the United States and the West is poisoning the international relations, fuelling mistrust and endangering security and stability; whereas politicians and the media have created hostile stereotypes on both sides; whereas the escalation of rhetoric is having a dangerous impact on the societies and endanger basic human rights and democratic freedoms;


  1. whereas the label foreign agent, in the Russian-speaking context, is a synonym for an enemy, a spy or someone who serves foreign hostile interests; whereas Russia’s legislation on “foreign agents” already covers nongovernmental organizations and media outlets that receive any amount of funding from foreign sources; whereas it requires them to indicate their ‘foreign agent’ status in publications, and creates onerous reporting requirements, and restrictions on the activities they may undertake; whereas criminal and administrative sanctions for non-compliance include, inter alia, fines of up to 500,000 roubles or imprisonment of up to two years;


  1. whereas the expansion of the legislation adopted in December 2019 allow authorities to also label individuals as “foreign agents” if they disseminate information to an unspecified number of people and receive funding for this from abroad; whereas those living abroad would also have to create and register under a legal entity inside Russia in order to publish in Russia; whereas all information published by the ‘foreign agent’ blogger or journalist would then have to be marked with the ”foreign agent” label; 


  1. whereas since 2012 about 50 new laws designed restricting democratic freedoms have been adopted in Russia which range from increased surveillance and censorship powers to laws on “extremism” that grant authorities powers to crack down on political and religious freedom;  whereas the situation of the LGBTI in Russia is of major concern: 


  1. Is deeply concerned about the fact that Russia and the EU as well as Russia and the United States are openly positioning themselves as opponents who are unable to overcome their differences; notes with deep concern that this has preoccupying effects on the societies, including on the human rights and democratic freedoms;


  1. Underlines that the interparliamentary dialogue is an important tool to overcome mutual mistrust and to create mutual understanding of the interests, concerns, assessments and approaches; calls for the immediate abolition of mutual sanctions on parliamentarians from both sides in order to reopen the interparliamentary dialogue, including on human rights and democratic freedoms;


  1. Expresses its serious concerns at the repressive laws limiting the space for the civil society and media and controlling and restricting their ability to carry out their legitimate work, and their arbitrary enforcement by the authorities in Russia, in some of the EU Member States and many other countries worldwide; calls on Russia, as on EU Member States concerned to repeal of these laws and  to bring the existing legislation into line the obligations under international human rights law, including the right to freedom of expression (Article 10) and the right to freedom of assembly and association (Article 11) of the European Convention on Human Rights;


  1. Reiterates its concern at Russia’s legislation on “foreign agents” that covers nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and media outlets that receive any amount of funding from foreign sources;  notes that the formulation of the recently adopted  legislation is very vague and therefore gives an enormous potential scope for interpretation; fears that it might become a tool to silence opposition voices, in particular bloggers;  notes with concern that the new legislation will have a serious effect on international media cooperation with Russia, because any involvement with a foreign outlet will put journalists at risk of being labelled “foreign agents”;


  1. Calls on Russia and EU Member States to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and secure environment for journalists and other media actors, including foreign journalists pursuing their journalistic activities, enabling them to carry out their work in full independence and without undue interference – such as the threat of violence, harassment, financial, economic and political pressure, pressure to disclose confidential sources and materials, and targeted surveillance; stresses the need to guarantee efficient legal recourse procedures, in respect of the above acts, for journalists whose freedom to work has been threatened, so as to avoid self-censorship;


  1. Notes with concern that more and more governments bodies are starting to employ social media surveillance with little oversight or accountability; notes the Russian "sovereign internet" law which  came into force on November,1 and requires providers to install equipment that could route Russian web traffic through points that are controlled by the state; warns that the law might lead to censorship across wide parts of the web and allow for greater surveillance of Internet users by Russian intelligence agencies; stresses the need to enact robust data privacy and data protection legislation and to ban the use of automated general monitoring tools;


  1.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation.


Ultima actualizare: 17 decembrie 2019
Aviz juridic - Politica de confidențialitate