(Reuters) – Former President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday called on Russia to toughen its “foreign agent” laws and prosecute people working for the interests of foreign states.
Russia has legislation that qualifies groups and individuals as foreign agents — a term that has connotations of Soviet-era espionage — if they receive foreign funding to engage in what authorities say is political activity.
Dozens of Kremlin critics have been listed as foreign agents, including journalists and rights activists, and many have fled abroad.
Medvedev, who now serves as deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said enforcement of ‘foreign agents’ legislation needed to be stepped up as Moscow carries out its military intervention in Ukraine and finds itself under harsh sanctions. Western precedent.
“If they (foreign agents) carry out activities against our country – especially during this difficult time – and receive money for it from our enemies, our response must be quick and tough,” Medvedev wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Political cartoons about world leaders
He added that the legislation should more precisely classify “foreign agents” and impose stricter penalties for their violations.
Currently, listed individuals are subject to strict financial reporting requirements and must precede anything they post, including social media posts, with a disclaimer stating that are foreign agents.
Lawmakers said last month they planned to submit amendments to the law to add more restrictions, including on investing in strategic industries and working with children.
Medvedev also said he supports legislative initiatives to criminally prosecute “persons working in the interest of a foreign state”.
His post began and ended with a reference to a 1960s Soviet TV series set during the 1920s Russian Civil War, in which Medvedev noted that the hero was shot as a spy.
Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.