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Russia is preparing a ‘loyalty agreement’ requirement for foreigners

Russia is preparing a ‘loyalty agreement’ requirement for foreigners
People walk on the snow covered Red Square outside the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 27 November 2023. EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

MOSCOW, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Russia's interior ministry has prepared draft legislation that would force foreigners to sign a "loyalty agreement" forbidding them from criticising official policy, discrediting Soviet military history or contravening traditional family values.

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has introduced a slew of tough laws that outlaw discrediting the military and courts have handed down long jail sentences to opposition activists.

As the 2024 presidential election approaches, Putin has cast the war as part of an existential battle with the West, saying he will defend Russia’s “sacred” civilisation from what he portrays as the West’s decadence.

The state TASS news agency reported that draft legislation had been prepared by the interior ministry which would force all foreigners entering Russia to sign an agreement that essentially restricts what they can say in public.

A foreigner entering Russia would be prohibited from “interfering with the activities of public authorities of the Russian Federation, discrediting in any form the foreign and domestic state policy of the Russian Federation, public authorities and their officials,” TASS said.

The proposed agreement would include clauses about morality, family, “propaganda about non-traditional sexual relations” and history.

In particular, foreigners would be barred from “distorting the historical truth about the feat of the Soviet people in the defence of the Fatherland and its contribution to the victory over fascism.”

The Soviet Union is estimated to have lost at least 27 million people in World War Two and eventually pushed Nazi forces back to Berlin. Governments loyal to Moscow then took power across swathes of eastern Europe.

Reuters could not independently verify the draft law. The Internal Affairs ministry did not immediately respond to requests for a comment. The law has not yet been introduced formally in parliament, according to Reuters searches.

TASS did not specify what repercussions foreigners would face if they broke the agreement.

For the draft to become law, the document has to be introduced to the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, and to go through committee review and several readings before being submitted to President Putin for signing.

Since the start of its war in Ukraine, Russia has imposed a number of restrictions on foreigners from what it calls “unfriendly countries” – meaning those that have imposed sanctions on it over its war in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow; Editing by Lincoln Feast/Andrew Osborn)

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  • Beyond Fedup says:

    How pathetic and just shows the depravity and insecurity of one so deranged, murderous and evil – none other than the Putin monster! Clamp down on any freedom of thought or association, and any dissent no matter how small or irrelevant. This is the typical behaviour of a bestial tyrant & criminal who always has to blame foreigners and the outside world for all the wrongs/mistakes in his country – that he willingly and knowingly imposed. His biggest fear is that the long-suffering and highly-abused population, throughout the ages, will be infected with and demand freedom, democracy and human rights, which would spell the end of his wholesale and criminal theft of the country.

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