In July, the Center for Economic and Political Reform, a think tank that monitors and studies social and economic issues in Russia, released a report on labor conflict in the second quarter of 2016. In this period, TsEPR identified 263 incidents in 65 regions in Russia, 34 more than the first quarter. Fifty-six were specifically labor protests (hunger strikes, strikes, pickets, etc).
The overwhelming majority of these incidents, 171, concerned unpaid wages. The most recent examples of workers’ efforts to fight for unpaid wages are the ongoing hunger strike of 175 miners in Rostov province under the slogan “We are not slaves” and AvtoVAZagregata autoworkers, who haven’t been paid for almost a year, blocking a federal highway. This action was in response Samara’s governor Nikolai Merkushkin cutting down a worker’s question about her back pay with, “Well, I want to say that if you speak in that tone, [it will be] never! Never!”
As this TsEPR map of labor conflict throughout Russia shows these workers fighting for their rights are hardly alone.
|Protests connected with labor conflicts (strikes, pickets, etc)|
|Reduction of work hours|
|Withholding pay (various pay)|
|Reduction of pay|
|Protests unconnected to labor conflicts|
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By Sean — 11 years ago
On April 18, OAO Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas monolith, gained the controlling stake in Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd. (50% + 1 share) that it had been promised in December after the internationally publicised ‘scandal’ surrounding the allegations made against the company by the Federal Service for the Supervision of Natural Resources (“Rosprirodnadzor”), the Russian government’s environmental watchdog.
The predominant strand of Western commentary, which maintains that Gazprom is an instrument of state-sponsored bullying, has been steadfast in its resilience since September when the affair became public. In the meantime, Anna Politkovskaya was murdered outside her Moscow apartment (October 7), Aleksandr Litvinenko was poisoned to death in London (November), Belarus was dealt a repeat of the gas cut-off suffered by Ukraine (January), and Russia and its ‘crumbling’ democracy has been a regular focus of the mainstream media. With the passing of Boris Yeltsin on April 23, many foreign commentators, both politicians and journalists, could not resist the temptation to at least make sidelong implications hinting at the current president’s ‘regressiveness’, compared with Mr. Yeltsin’s legacy as a ‘defender of democracy’ and the ‘conqueror of Communism’.
There is hardly a need to recount the allegations brought against Putin’s Russia. They are, by now, very familiar and verging on monotony. Europeans are concerned for their energy security, investors are weary, democracy pundits are up in arms, whilst the US government seems to seriously believe that the “defensive” anti-missile shield being developed in Poland and the Czech Republic is not an affront against Russia’s international perspective.
It would be na?ve and foolish to suggest that democracy in Russia is not in grave danger. Presidential appointment, rather than popular election, has become the normative vehicle for accession to governmental and judiciary positions. Political opposition is on its last legs, with popular protest restricted and liberal candidates being struck off electoral ballots for allegedly collecting forged signatures. The perceived freedom of the press is diminishing rapidly with every mysterious journalist death, while Gazprom and friends buy up more and more of the main media outlets.
But is Gazprom’s state-sponsored strategy really world domination? Is the company just a foreign policy tool with the expressed aim of re-establishing a second post-Soviet Moscow-centric empire, this time through economic means? Has the Kremlin succeeded in embracing and manipulating capitalism to reignite the old flame of its expansionist ambitions?
The answer is, inevitably perhaps, both yes and no. Yes because the company is owned by the state, and, like all commercial enterprises, its strategy includes expansion and increased profits; because the board of directors is composed of Putin allies and government ministers (including supposed presidential hopeful and First Deputy Premier Dmitriy Medvedev); because imperialist and nationalist sentiments are growing in Russia, fuelled by war, politics, media, literature, and theatre; because Russia has interests, either directly or indirectly, in a number of geopolitical disputes, from Kosovo through Transdniestr, Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Kuril Islands north of Japan, and of course Chechnya, and is too reluctant to cede any ground to allow for any other foreign influences, especially those of the USA.
However, some degree of perspective is needed before condemning Russia and Gazprom too hastily – and not just because the arguments raised against them might be equally applicable to our own governments and corporations.
It is universally agreed that Russia’s ability to be seen as a threat has been brought about during President Putin’s tenure through unprecedented economic growth, the driving force of which is mineral exports – mainly oil and gas. Widespread wealth is a virgin concept to Russia, and the Moscow of today is a vastly different landscape to that of even five years ago, and the fruits of the county’s newfound prosperity have begun flowering also in the regions.
But the country is far from developed by any non-GDP-measured standards: healthcare is lagging behind drastically, social safety nets are still non-existent, housing is sub-standard, child poverty is rife, and a million people are homeless. The reported crime rate has been on the rise since the lost years of the late 90s. Hundreds of thousands of abandoned and orphaned children live in state institutions, the majority of which will never be integrated into mainstream society. Outside Moscow and a few of the very biggest cities, infrastructure is limited. It is indicative that, in the country with the largest gas resources in the world, only 54% of the population is directly supplied with domestic gas – this figure falls to 34% in rural areas.
The problem with the typical western analysis of Gazprom’s strategy, therefore, is that it does not take into account the domestic front on which it operates. In a country still very much in transition to market principles and economic stability, both the government and Gazprom have an entire system to overhaul and bring in line with the global regime. By doing so, they not only stabilise Russia’s economy, but by proxy, they significantly contribute to the overall energy security of Europe and the world at large.
The domestic gas market in Russia is, in truth, not a market at all. Staggering differences in prices and incomes between Russia at the collapse of the Soviet Union and the West meant that domestic gas has been heavily subsidized by Gazprom and the government until now, as it was in communist times. Meanwhile, demand only grows both at home and abroad, while (Western-influenced) geopolitical concerns in the Middle East and Nigeria, as well as US antagonism with a number of South American regimes, maintain energy security in a state of tension and global prices remain high. The result is that Russia is increasingly called upon, from both East and West, to supply export fuel.
Gazprom currently makes a loss on its domestic gas sales, which limits the investiture it can embark on in order to exploit more of its abundant subsoil resources. The company is therefore straining to ensure that it can continue to meet rising demand and honour long-term supply contracts it has signed with a number of destination countries in Europe, whilst also trying to build relations with Asian markets such as India, China, Japan and South Korea. This is, of course, a worry for Gazprom itself and for all governments and citizens who rely on fossil fuel resources for their energy needs (and whilst the Green Revolution remains confined to a few OSCE countries, and alternative energy development is hardly revolutionary in its progress, this is essentially everyone) because it is the purses of the ordinary consumer which will be hardest hit by any prospective crisis in energy supply. The strategy laid out by the government is to gradually raise gas prices through its tariff system, gradually introducing long-term supply contracts market pricing with an aim of having a fully market-based and sustainable system by 2011.
Contrary to Western opinion, Gazprom and the Federal Government are not two mirror-image manifestations of Soviet-style hegemony conspiring to conquer Russia, the former Soviet Union, and eventually the rest of the world. As with any pluriform political system, there are ideological divisions and tensions permeating the administration at every level: President Putin has, after all, preferred variety and continuity as to be a defining feature of his cadre, unlike Mr. Yeltsin who dispatched a seemingly endless string of ministers as soon as their opinion started to differ from his own. Internal talks regarding market liberalization, export policy, taxation, and so on, have stalled repeatedly due to relativistic differences (the government, for example, is proposing a sixfold increase in gas extraction tax, which Gazprom is vehemently opposing). The presence of disagreement and debate is, of course, perfectly typical of any legitimate democratic institution, and accusations of resurgent totalitarian authority are revealed to be, if not totally misplaced (debate is a fairly exclusive feature of the upper echelons after all, with only limited details reaching the eyes and ears of the press), then certainly a hysterical overreaction.
While Mr. Putin’s favoured doctrine of “sovereign” or “controlled” democracy comes under frequent attack on this side of the divide, where Politkovskaya, Kasparov, Berezovsky and other militant Putin-haters are given a practical monopoly of editorial exposure, the predominant, and undoubtedly not enforced perspective (the legacy of Russian dissidence is far too strong for that) in Russia itself is both more balanced and varied. It is recognized and conceded that statist reforms are a necessary counterweight to the rampant kleptocracy pervaded by the self-serving pro-business bratva of the Yeltsin-era, that the oligarchs had to be brought in check (and for all the injustices committed against Mikhail Khodorkovsky, insofaras as he was singled out and packaged as a universal warning, let us not forget that he was legitimately found guilty of tax evasion and fraud), and that enforced counter-insurgent pacification was the only way to stop the bloodshed in Chechnya.
The case of Sakhalin Energy is no different. The original Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) was signed in 1994, when Russia was a still fragile capitalistic embryo desperate for foreign investment and willing to accept almost any conditions. Multinational energy corporations are hardly known for their compromising nature, while the Russian authorities of the time were far from reaching any recognized apex of accountability. The recent action can therefore be interpreted as a Russified reverse model of the successful attempt of the British and American governments in overthrowing the Iranian Shah in 1953 for threatening to nationalize oil interests there. Furthermore, there is no reason to suppose that Sakhalin Energy was not in violation of environmental protocols (although, equally, there is no evidence to suggest that the newly Russian-controlled enterprise is making any attempt to rectify any infringement).
Mr. Putin’s speech at the Munich conference on Security Policy in February and the subsequent reactions signified the start of a new era of US-Russian tension, and talk of a new cold war has abounded. Conflicts of interest exist in almost every sphere of political activity: the new “space race” being waged over the control of global satellite surveillance (the US’s GPS vs. Europe’s Galileo vs. Russia’s GLONASS), the struggle for influence in Middle Eastern affairs (with Russia increasing its stake in the Palestinian conflict, renewing speculation on the possible formation of a new OPEC-style gas cartel, cooperating with Iran over nuclear power, etc.), Russia’s renewed friendliness with Japan, a traditionally staunch US-ally, and its increasing diplomatic and strategic cooperation with Europe (especially Germany) are all cause for concern for Republicans and Democrats alike.
One key area in which the US has been striving to increase its holding is Central Asia, doggedly supporting the colour-revolutions (recently revealed to be a false dawn in Ukraine) and rapidly expanding its energy interests in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and other resource-rich countries. Meanwhile, it has been vociferous in the assault against Gazprom for forcibly raising gas prices in Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus. There is a fatal contradiction at play here which is plain to see for anyone who cares to look: if the West is so stridently in favour of market liberalism and democracy, and principally against a “repressive” and “anti-democratic” Russia re-establishing its sphere of influence over its new sovereign neighbours, why on earth would they want Russia to carry on subsidizing their gas consumption, negating the development of the desired economic principles and maintaining an economic leash with which to rein them in at will? On the contrary, Moscow has throughout this decade made a string of concessions to the CIS states to establish their independence and re-mould them into strong, strategic partners, rather than subservient, and therefore reliant, puppet regimes. It is only in cases of open hostility (such as Georgia) that severe measures have been taken to draw a line in the sand. The outcomes of the price disputes of recent winters should be interpreted as the controlled release of the adolescent flock from the parental nest, and not as a threat to Europe, the US, or anyone else.
The question remains: what of the future? Russia is approaching an all-important crossroads, in the form of the March 2008 Presidential Elections. Suffice it to say that Putin will almost certainly not be a candidate, while common wisdom has it that former Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov and Dmitriy Medvedev (current Chairman of Gazprom) are the main contenders. The end of the Putin era will signify the closing chapter of a Golden Age for many Russians, while it cannot be supposed that much systemic change will be implemented by either victorious candidate.
In the meantime, we in the West must recognize that Russia is completing a crucial and at times painful first phase of transition from totalitarianism to capitalist democracy. Unreasoned hostility will only push the regime towards greater antagonism, as has been witnessed in the rise of Islamist militancy throughout the years of the War On Terror. Baiting the bear will only increase our own security worries, while positively encouraging liberal reform through cooperation and trade will serve to continue the ascendance of stability, democracy and reform in this most turbulent of countries. If alignment is what we wish from the Russians, then we must stop blindly criticising them.
Simon Lewis is an occasional writer on Russian and other international affairs. He studied Russian and Linguistics at Oxford University, and has worked as a teacher, orphanage volunteer, translator and writer in Russia. He is now employed in Russian oil and gas research in London.Tags: Putin|Russia|economics|Gazprom|Russian oligarchs|democracy|journalism|oil|natural gas|Russian politicsPost Views: 596
By Sean — 2 years ago
In January, Novaya gazeta held their annual online documentary film festival. Each film was available for online viewing for 24 hours. A Facebook friend posted a link to Elena Demidova’s Men’s Choice (Muzhskoi vybor). He had written the English subtitles for it. It looked interesting so I checked it out.
What I saw was something outsiders rarely hear about Russia—the lives of the thousands of people, mostly men, who travel extraordinary distances to Russia’s far north to work in the natural gas fields. These men work on rotations—a month of constant work on, and a month back home. This labor forces them to be separated from their families for long periods of time. Why do they do it? For money, quite simply. Working at Russia’s vast gas fields is far more lucrative than the work available in the small towns and villages many of these men hail from.
I found Men’s Choice fascinating for its human touch against the backdrop of hard labor and a harsh environment. So I reached out to the film’s director, Elena Demidova, for an interview. I originally wanted this to be a podcast, but technical issues and scheduling made it impractical. Luckily, Demidova was kind enough to answer my questions in written form. The interview is below.
Elena Demidova is currently raising funds for her next film, The Last Man. You can donate here.
Watch the trailer for Men’s Choice (English Subtitles)
Tell a bit about yourself and your filmmaking. What are some of the issues that interest you?
I didn’t come to the film industry right away. My first education is in engineering, and then I got a degree in History and worked as a journalist. Then almost by accident I started to study in the Internews film school in Moscow (under Marina Razbezhkina) [Internews Moscow was closed down after a raid by the Russian Interior Ministry in 2007. You can read about the incident here and here as well as the appeal to Vladimir Putin signed by over 1100 Russian journalists and filmmakers.—Sean]. It completely changed my life. I didn’t just get anew profession, I also discovered а new world and new possibilities. I’ve been working as film director since. I’ve made about 10 films. This work is interesting and important for me. Men’s Choice is my second feature-length documentary.
What inspired you to make Men’s Choice?
The Russian North and the Arctic aren’t just words to me. I went to the North when I was a student. We skied at Northern Urals and Kola Peninsula. In addition to this, I shot one of my previous films in the train travelling from the Arctic Circle to the Black Sea. I got the idea for [Men’s Choice] there. When I got on to the train at one of the northern stations, I noticed that only men were travelling in it. So I became acquainted with shift workers, who went home and went back to work a month later. And I realized that I’m really interested in how they live and work in the North and what is going on with them.
Beside this, I wanted to make this film because I lived in a Russian village for quite a long time. I know very well how men and women live there. I feel really bad for the women who must play the man’s role in family because their husbands are unemployed and drink. And I feel sorry for those men who are losing the man in themselves. And I understood that if a man must leave for a long time to support his family, he will not just earn money but he will also have problems. And so it was interesting for me to investigate this situation and these men. I generally believe that a film is always more interesting when it explores something.
And I felt so close to them because I understand their problems. I also used to live in a small town and used to have a husband who earned little money. Granted, we didn’t move to the North, but to Moscow. But it was a lot like moving to the north—there are more opportunities, but you also have to work more as well. My husband gave up; he couldn’t cope with these challenges. My characters can, however. I am interested in how these men manage it.
Your film takes place on the Yamal Peninsula 500 kilometers from the Arctic Circle on the Bovanenkovo gas field. What were you trying to capture by filming the lives of workers in such a remote place?
I wanted to understand how they live, how they work, and the environment around them. It like being on Mars. And in fact, these people go to Mars for their families, that is, out of love for them. But sometimes they lose the family as a result. Other times, they sometimes find a new family. They choose this way of life and they pay for it.
Men’s Choice focuses on three very different men: Andrei, a young man recently married; Alexei, a middle aged man in his second marriage. He met his wife at Bovanenkovo. And Dmitry, who has a wife and a young son. Why these men?
It took a long time find these characters. It was a big problem. I wanted to go to the gas field where the men I met on the train a few years before were traveling. But I could only get therewith Gazprom’s permission. Gazprom didn’t allow us to go there and they permitted us to only film at Bovanenkovo.
There were 3000 men when I got to but I didn’t find the film’s characters. Since the subject of the documentary, as I understood it, is someone who is currently making a choice, who changes, and loves and suffers in front of our eyes. And most of workers had been working in this field for a long time and all the critical moments in their lives had already past.
I met Dmitry first. I don’t like him but he gave us permission to film his wife in their hometown, and when I first saw her, I realized that there is the love and an invisible bond between her and Dmitry. That there is pain.
Dmitry led me to Alexei. I immediately liked Alexei. He’s an unusual man. All the men pump gas, but he pumps shit. All of them are pragmatic but he’s a romantic. All of them just want to make money, but he writes songs. But I had only one problem with him. His life didn’t change the whole time I was filming him and this later presented problems while editing.
And from the beginning I wanted to find a guy who was in the North for the first time and to see how it transforms him. But it turned out that such people rarely get to this gas field. Usually, they’ve previously worked in other gas fields in the North. I only met Andrei when I was on the second filming expedition. His coworkers were surprised that I wanted to film him. They thought that he wasn’t interesting. But I knew that I would film him for more than a year, that I would see the changes in his life and that he would end up in a different and interesting situation. And I was right.
Moreover I think these three stories are interlinked through parallel editing. They support, explain, and move each other forward.
How did these three men react to being filmed? They are not very talkative in the film.
They don’t come off very talkative because these people are generally not talkative. It’s because of their work and incessant tiredness. Besides, it is very hard to talk a lot in this climate.
I also think that words aren’t very important in documentary films. The camera tells a story through images–facial expressions, poses, lights, color—and we understand everything about these people without many words.
Why do they do this type of work where they work a month at a time without time off and in some cases 2000-3000 kilometers from their families?
They have chosen this type of work because there is no regularly paid word in those places where they live. In some small towns in European Russia up to 70% of inhabitants work in this way. They either go to the North or to Moscow.
The alternative to this is to either become a bureaucrat, but not everybody can get such a job, or to earn very little money and live in poverty. But this situation is also very bad for the families. So the choice before a person is actually to separate from their family but earn good money or to live together in poverty.
The film briefly shows women working at Bovanenkovo and Alexei’s wife worked there are well. What do the women do and what are the relations between them and the men?
Alexei’s wife is the woman in film shown in the trailer with Alexei at Bovanenkovo. He talks about how he came there to earn money for his first family, but met her, left his family and now they travel [to Bovanenkovo] together. She’s a cook. I think it’s not that he met her but more like she met him. I think she had come to the North looking for a man. And she found him. This is one of dangers of rotation work.
Many of the shots in the film show the daily life of these workers—As Alexei says in their habitat. Why did you focus on this?
I focused on this because we will never see this anywhere else. The majority of the audience had never been to such a place and they never will. Many people believe that this is easy money, but in fact this money is earned by the very hard work and it was important for me to show it. It was also important to show that the living conditions there are almost like living on Mars.
Also there are many shots just showing the environment—the cold, the darkness, the tundra. Why did you show so much of the landscape?
I don’t think that I show too much of landscape. I actually think the opposite that I don’t show this enough. Showing the people was more important for me so I show landscape mostly through them. I only have four frames that show nature without humans. I think this impression is because nature is perceived as brighter and stronger when you show it through a person. We cannot just see images of nature; we can actually feel how a person feels it. Whether he is cold or warm, whether the wind blows in his face or snow flies. Film for me first and foremost about people.
Given that oil and gas are Russia’s lifeblood, in what ways do the lives of these men, their work, and their families symbolize Russia as a whole?
I wouldn’t make such a generalization. In fact, life in Russia is much more diverse. The lives of the government and the oligarchs depend on oil and gas pipelines. But ordinary people earn their living in different ways. In the southern part of European Russia, where black soil is rich, a lot of people work in agriculture. The main source of life in the taiga is the forest. People’s lives in cities are very similar to people’s lives life in cities around the world. In the poor areas (outside the Black Earth zone) to the north of Moscow, (But not in the Arctic, where, yes, oil and gas are the main sources for life), people are very poor, agriculture is destroyed, everyone survives however they can. But even here people aren’t dependent on oil and gas. It’s just poverty. But of course, gas and oil indirectly affects the lives of many, many people working in rotation, and they are a considerable portion of the population.
What is your next project?
I’m currently working on several projects. The first is a co-production with France. It’s called Paris 1986. It’s a story about a mother and her adult son. Pavel is forty years old and Anna Grigoryevna is seventy. Paul isn’t married, has no children, and no steady job. He and his mother are very different, live different lives, have different dreams, and different daily routines. They hurt each other, argue and make up, but they have to live together in the same apartment. This is their only home.
Ever since Pavel found strange old photos in a closet, he’s been constantly occupied with digitizing them on his computer. These are the photos his mother took during a trip to Paris in 1986: three frames in one, poorly focused, with strange angles… At the time, he and his father decided that the photos weren’t any good and didn’t want print them. But now Pavel believes that they’re very interesting and wants to arrange an exhibition for his mother. What if he succeeds?
His mother dreamt about that trip to Paris for thirty years. The trip was almost unreal for a Soviet woman, but this dream came true, and not the dream for grandchildren or a successful life for her son. The son feels guilty and hopes to apologize by getting her back to Paris, at least with the help of a photo exhibition.
I film both of them together and individually to try to find the answers to the eternal questions: How do you learn to understand and accept a loved one? Why does the mother need to feel happy, and how could her son not to feel guilty in front of her? Moreover, I’m very interested if the exhibition will take place.
The film is currently in postproduction.
The other film was shot practically without any money. Just with help of volunteers. The main protagonist—Lesha—is the last man in his village. The other men have died or left. The village was burned down during the terrible fires of 2010. But Lesha doesn’t want to leave. He’s looking for a wife but instead a female director periodically comes to him. He’s looking for love but I’m trying to make a film.
Watch Lesha (English Subtitles)
This is a very personal projector me. I met Lesha in the summer 2010 when the entire European part of Russia was on fire. The village where Lesha lived burned down. I came there with volunteers. We brought humanitarian aid. We went with him on the only village street where his house was and where his cat and dog lived. He had to feed them. We walked and talked. About the fire, but not only. At the time, I thought I would shoot episode of film about the volunteers. But when I looked at the material, I realized that this hour walk was a film in and of itself. This movie was released in 2011, it was simply called Lesha. But during the hour we spent together in that burnt village, something happened that caused me to come to him again and again, first with volunteers and then by myself and to shoot new big film. I came into his life, and he became a part of mine. Once the movie is over it is also be important how.
And I have other plans and dreams. I really hope they will all come true—just like my dream has come true to make a film about male rotation workers in the North.Post Views: 1,284
By Sean — 5 years ago
My new Russia Magazine column, “Happy Birthday Foreign Agents!” Given that Ukraine is all the rage, I managed to make some Ukrainian connection.
“The events in Ukraine are more like a riot than a revolution,” says Vladimir Putin about the protests that have thrown his western neighbor into political crisis. “What is happening now suggests that these are, apparently, well-prepared actions, and, in my opinion, these actions have not been prepared for today’s events, they have been prepared for the presidential campaign in the spring of 2015.” Veiled in these comments is the suggestion that the protests against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich were orchestrated from abroad. The idea that political machinations are the fruits of foreign plotting is tried and true Putin. He thought similar the last time Ukraine was rocked by revolution nine years ago. When protests hit his own country in the winter of 2011-2012, he reiterated the belief that foreigners—particularly the US State Department—were behind them. A political chill descended upon Russia in the aftermath of each. Pushback against the Orange menace and the Russian protests are hallmarks of Putin’s second and third presidential term.
If the present political chill in Russia will become a full blown political freeze in the wake of Ukraine remains to be seen. It all depends, I think, on whether Yanokovich survives and in what shape. Either way, Putin already has a number of tools at his disposal to further tighten the screws on Russian civil society. Principle among them is the infamous foreign agents law. The law had its one year birthday two weeks ago. So given the current situation in Ukraine and what it might portend for Russia, I thought I’d give an update on its impact on Russian civil society.
“On Introducing Changes to Certain Pieces of Legislation of the Russian Federation as Regards Regulation of Activities of Non-Commercial Organizations Performing the Functions of Foreign Agents,” or simply the foreign agents law, was enacted on 21 November 2012. In a nutshell, the law requires any non-governmental organizations operating in the Russian Federation to register as a “foreign agent” if it receives funding from abroad and engages in “political” activities. Organizations deemed “foreign agents” that fail to register are subject to fines (up to 500,000 rubles or $16000 for organizations and 300,000 rubles or about $10,000 for individuals) and, if they continue to resist, closure. As Putin likes to point out, other countries have similar laws, including his favorite example, the United States, which enacted the Foreign Agents Registration Act in 1938. I leave the reader to decide the virtuousness of both the American and Russian version. I only want to note that in Russia the label “foreign agent” has a sordid history that recalls the dark days of Stalinism. The term essentially demonizes these organizations as spies and traitors. For this reason, Russian NGOs roundly reject the idea that grants from abroad makes them an agent of a foreign government. To date, not a single organization has complied with the law.
Image: RidusPost Views: 1,517