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Vladimir Putin enacted more than 100 new laws today. Here are the ones you need to know.

Source: Meduza
Maxim Blinov / AP / Scanpix / LETA

The integrated ‘foreign agents’ law

The Russian authorities can now designate anyone they consider under “foreign influence” a “foreign agent” — even without evidence of the receipt of foreign funding. In addition, those blacklisted as “foreign agents” are now banned from teaching at state and municipal schools, receiving government financial support for creative projects, and selling goods and services to the state. What constitutes “foreign influence” remains unclear

Expanded felony liability for war-related crimes

Defecting to the enemy’s side in any armed conflict is now considered on par with treason and carries punishments ranging from 12 to 20 years in a prison colony. Any Russian citizen or resident who participates in armed actions against Russian interests abroad can also face up to 20 years behind bars. Secretly cooperating with foreign intelligence agencies now carries punishments ranging from three to eight years in prison. 

‘Special economic measures’

The Russian government now has the right to implement special economic measures during “counter-terrorism and other operations” abroad (such as the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which the Kremlin formally calls a “special military operation”). Such measures include, for example, directly managing manpower in certain organizations — meaning the government can make company employees work overtime, as well as nights and weekends. The government can also prohibit companies from refusing to enter into state procurement contracts, including defense procurement and acquisition agreements. 

Veteran status for civilians

Civilians involved in the Kremlin’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine will now qualify for veteran status and social security benefits. This includes maintenance workers, doctors, and other specialists assisting the army, as well as defense correspondents covering the hostilities. A one-day “business trip” to Ukraine is now all it takes to qualify for veteran status. 

Turnover penalties for ‘landing law’ non-compliance

Foreign tech giants that fail to comply with Russia’s “landing law,” which requires major IT companies to establish full-fledged representative offices in Russia, can now face fines equivalent to up to 10 percent of their total Russian revenue — or up to 20 percent for repeat violations. Until now, companies that failed to comply with the “landing law” risked being banned from advertising in Russia, as well as having their web traffic throttled or their websites blocked. All of these measures remain in place. 

Classifying Russia’s reserves 

How big are Russia’s gold and foreign currency reserves? The answer to this question is now considered a state secret. This particular bill was adopted to make it harder for the international community to impose further sanctions: since the start of the February invasion, the European Union and the United States have frozen roughly $300 billion of Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves. As of July 8, the Russian Central Bank valued the country’s FX reserves at more than $572 billion. 

Countering ‘discrimination’ against Russian media 

Russia’s attorney general can now ban foreign news media in response to “hostile” actions taken against Russian media outlets abroad. The new law also allows the attorney general to revoke any outlet’s media license for disseminating “publicly significant information” deemed illegal or dangerous, or information “expressing clear disrespect for the state.” First time offenders may face a three-month suspension rather than losing their media licenses right away. Journalists will also be held liable for republishing information that “discredits the use of the Russian army” or contains calls for street protests.

Putin’s ‘new Pioneers’

Vladimir Putin has signed off on the creation of a new, nationwide children’s and youth movement modeled on the Soviet Union’s Young Pioneers organization. The movement, called The Great Change (Bolshaya Peremena, in Russian), will be under the president’s personal control. Participation is supposed to be voluntary

Upping punishments for torture

Coercing someone to testify and abuse of power involving the use of torture are now considered especially grave crimes with maximum punishments of up to 12 years in prison. Or, in the event of the victim’s death, up to 15 years in prison. The new law also introduces the legal concept of “intimidation.” At the same time, it drew criticism from human rights activists for failing to add a separate article on torture to the Russian Criminal Code. 

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