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EU Lawmakers Say Russia 'Deliberately' Creating 'Hostile' Atmosphere Toward Civil Society

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BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament is calling on Russian authorities to repeal the country’s controversial law on "foreign agents" and to "stop deliberately creating an atmosphere that is hostile to civil society."

"This law and the excessive use of fines and settlements against the media, human rights organisations, and civil society to be deliberately aimed at forcing them to focus their resources on paying fines and judicial defense, and thus to limit freedom of expression," the lawmakers said in a non-binding resolution adopted on December 19.

They also condemned the recently approved amendments to the "foreign agents" law, saying they considerably widen its scope.

Russia passed the original foreign agent law -- which requires all nongovernmental organizations receiving foreign funding to register -- in 2012 following a major wave of anti-government protests.

Critics say the legislation stigmatizes organizations with the designation and is used to muzzle dissent and discourage the free exchange of ideas and a free press.

The European Parliament's resolution asks other EU institutions to "raise concerns about the their contacts, meetings, and communications with Russian representatives, including at the highest levels."

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.