The implementation of the Kremlin’s law on “undesirable organisations” is reaching farcical proportions.
“We actually thought we had ‘mopped up’ our website and got rid of those ‘undesirable’ hyperlinks, but we missed one,” Anya Sarang told me, chuckling ruefully. Sarang is the head of the Andrei Rylkov Foundation, a prominent Russian group working to advance responsible drug policy. This week, a court in Moscow fined the group 50,000 rubles (US$862) for involvement with an “undesirable organisation”. The charges stem from a 2011 hyperlink on the group’s website to a publication on the website of the Open Society Foundations (OSF), which Russian authorities banned two years ago.
Russia’s 2015 law on “undesirable organisations,” authorizes the prosecutor general’s office to ban from the country any foreign or international organization that it alleges undermines the country’s security, defense, or constitutional order. OSF is one of the 11 organisations, mainly American donor institutions and capacity building groups, already blacklisted.
Once designated “undesirable,” an organisation can no longer carry out any activities in Russia. Moreover, the law provides for administrative and criminal penalties for Russian groups and citizens that cooperate with “undesirables” — administrative fines for the first two violations, and then a maximum six-year prison sentence.
Thumbnail: Flickr CC Tyler Menezes