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)