State Duma lawmakers have drafted new legislation that would allow the federal government to outlaw any foreign NGOs that allegedly meddle in Russian elections. Co-authored by deputies from all parties in the legislature, the new law would define election interference as any actions that “create obstacles” to nominating or electing candidates or voting in referenda. The legislation would allow federal officials to designate these organizations as “undesirable,” making their work illegal in Russia.
Since 2015, the Attorney General’s Office has been empowered to ban “undesirable” organizations that supposedly threaten Russia’s “constitutional order.” Russian citizens who continue working for these banned groups risk criminal penalties. Currently, Russia has designated 15 “undesirable organizations,” including the National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society Foundation, the Open Russia Civic Movement, and the German Marshall Fund.