Members of the Russian Federation Council have proposed expanding the definition of “foreign agents” to include NGOs funded by Russian citizens who in turn receive money from foreign states, foreign citizens, or foreign organizations.
Lawmakers also expressed concerns that education and training programs in the U.S. and Europe are designed to weaponize journalists in Russia. The senators say that Russian reporters are being taught to use the Internet to wield “psychological influence” over public opinion and “to activate” Russian society’s “protest potential.”
Russia's law on “foreign agents” was passed in 2012 and it requires NGOs receiving funding from abroad and participating in “political activity” to join a registry and submit themselves to crippling levels of bureaucratic scrutiny. Foreign agents are also required to label themselves as such, which in Russia is typically viewed as discrediting.
Russia's Justice Ministry currently lists 95 organizations as foreign agents. Officials say they reviewed more than 5,000 NGOs in 2016, blacklisting 43 of these organizations.