Russia Latest Law – You Can Be Shut Down For Being “Unfriendly”

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May 24 2015
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About a week ago, Russian parliament gave “preliminary approval” to legislation that would allow prosecutors to declare foreign and international organizations “undesirable” in Russia and shut them down. Now, it’s official, after President Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law yesterday (May 23). In a nutshell, Putin administration can shut down your businesses whenever they like, literally speaking.

Russian Putin Administration Shut Down Undesirable Unfriendly Organization - No Entry Sign

The latest law allows Russian prosecutors to declare an organization “undesirable” if it presented “a threat to the foundation of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, the defence capability of the country or the security of the state.” Clearly this is a new tool to strengthen Putin’s grip on power, by further flushing rights activists or anyone critical of him.


Prior to the bill becoming a law, rights activists fear that it could be used to extend the crackdown to Russian branches of international groups like Transparency International, Amnesty International and Greenpeace. If declared undesirable in Russia, an organization would have to close its operations, failing which  the heads of the organization would be fined or sent to prison.

Russian Putin Administration Shut Down Undesirable Unfriendly Organization - Smiling Putin

Ever since Putin’s return to the Kremlin for a third presidential term in 2012, he has been very suspicious of foreign and international NGOs (non-governmental organizations), openly accuses them of creating social unrest in Russia. It has accused the West of engineering the overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovich last year through its support for NGOs.


The goal of the legislation is to “close the door” to foreign organisations that are unfriendly to Russia. As expected, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have condemned the legislation as a “draconian attack on civil society”, not to mention unconstitutional. Understandable, the terms in the law are ambiguous enough that it could also be applied to commercial organisations.

Russian Putin Administration Shut Down Undesirable Unfriendly Organization - Army At McDonald's Sign

For exanple, if Russian authorities “think” McDonald’s is posing a threat to the country by feeding “questionable” hamburgers to the Russians, the restaurants could be shut down. Or if they believe iPhone is being used to send and receive information critical of supremo Putin, Apple business in Russia can be shut down too. Analysts believe the law is aimed at suffocating Russian civil society, cutting them off completely from their international contacts.


An individual found guilty of “participation in the activities” of a blacklisted organisation can be fined between 5,000 and 15,000 roubles (US$100 – US$300, £90 – £272), officials can be fined between 20,000 and 50,000 roubles (US$400 – US$1,000, £260 – £645) and organisations can be fined between 50,000 and 100,000 roubles (US$1,000 – US$2,000, £645 – £1,290).

Russian Putin Administration Shut Down Undesirable Unfriendly Organization - Apple Store

Offenders fined twice in the same year will face criminal penalties including a prison sentence of two to six years. With the exception of organisations such as United Nations (UN), any other organisations (profit-based on non-profit) as well as business organisations can be punished without going to court, if Russian officials think and declare you’re not friendly enough.


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