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The Daily Vertical: Back To Article 70 (Transcript)


The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

So don't look now, but Russia may be about to get yet another law that will allow Vladimir Putin's regime to prosecute its own citizens for just about anything.

According to a report in this morning's edition of the pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia, which is one of the regime's key mouthpieces, the Federation Council is working on legislation to deal with "undesirable behavior."

The details of the bill are still being worked out, but the Izvestia report says it would provide for the expulsion of foreigners and the prosecution of Russians who act in any way that harms national security.

Viewed one way, the legislation follows up on previous laws requiring NGOs that receive foreign funding to register as so-called foreign agents and on laws providing for the banning of foreign NGOs deemed to be "undesirable organizations."

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If passed, it could also have a chilling effect on how foreign journalists cover Russia.

But this is not just about controlling foreigners.

Like previous laws on extremism and on insulting religious believers -- which have been implemented very broadly to suit the needs of the authorities -- this new legislation would give Putin's Kremlin a new tool to harass and prosecute it domestic opponents.

In many ways, it appears to resemble the infamous Article 70 of Russia's Soviet-era Criminal Code, which prohibited "agitation or propaganda aimed at subverting or weakening Soviet authority."

According to Izvestia, the legislation should be introduced to the State Duma in early 2018 -- just in time for the presidential elections in March.

And it's yet another example of how deeply insecure the Putin regime is after nearly 18 years in power.

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