ISW: Russia introduces bill to limit activities of opposition media

State Duma of the Russian Federation. Photo: RIA Novosti
State Duma of the Russian Federation. Photo: RIA Novosti

According to experts from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the Russian State Duma is considering a bill that would restrict the long-term activities of Russia's opposition media.

Source: Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

Details: According to the review, the Russian State Duma is considering a bill that would restrict the entry into Russia of people the Russian government considers "undesirable."

Analysts believe it is part of a long-term effort to censor opposition media and undermine ties between Russia and foreign and international nongovernmental organisations.

On 12 February, Vasily Piskarev, Russian State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption Head, announced that he and other deputies had filed a bill that would allow the Russian government to designate foreign organisations whose founders or participants are likely to be connected with foreign governments as "undesirable."

The bill also prohibits foreigners and stateless people from entering Russia if they participate in the activities of such "undesirable" organisations.

According to experts, this bill will most likely prohibit Russian opposition journalists based outside of the country from entering Russia, as well as foreign media outlets with Russian divisions (such as the British BBC and German Deutsche Welle), limiting their ability to cover internal Russian Federation affairs, and will also further impede the work of international non-governmental organisations in Russia.

According to the ISW, individuals found guilty of participating in "undesirable" organisations may face criminal charges and have their Russian citizenship revoked.

Piskarev recently announced that the State Duma is debating another bill that would prohibit Russian citizens and businesses from advertising on platforms owned by organisations designated as "foreign agents," which are likely to use financial coercion to censor Russian opposition media and critical Russian ultranationalist military bloggers.

According to ISW estimates, the Kremlin is attempting to consolidate control over the Russian information space and suppress dissent in the run-up to Russia's presidential elections in March 2024, though this bill is likely to severely restrict opposition media activities in Russia in the long run.

To quote the ISW’s Key Takeaways on 13 February:

  • Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that elements of Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are training Russian drone operators at the Shayrat Air Base in Syria.

  • The Russian State Duma is considering a bill to restrict actors that the Russian government designates as "undesirable" from entering Russia, likely as part of ongoing efforts to censor opposition media outlets and dismantle ties between Russia and foreign and international non-governmental organisations.

  • Boris Nadezhdin, the only openly anti-war Russian presidential candidate, filed two lawsuits in the Russian Supreme Court challenging the Russian Central Election Commission’s (CEC) refusal to register him as a candidate as the Kremlin continues efforts to suppress popular opposition while trying to preserve the veneer of legitimacy of Russian presidential elections.

  • The European Union (EU) is beginning to take concrete steps towards possibly using frozen Russian assets to aid Ukraine.

  • Ukrainian forces recently made confirmed advances near Kreminna and Donetsk City and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Kupiansk and Kreminna.

  • South Korean news outlet Yonhap News Agency reported on 12 February that North Korea has developed 240mm guided multiple rocket launcher system (MLRS) missiles that North Korea may export to Russia.

  • Russian authorities continue to use youth engagement programs to Russify Ukrainian youth.

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