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Russian Government Drafts Bill To Define 'Political Activity'

Russia's Justice Ministry has submitted draft changes to the country's controversial law on "foreign agents" that are intended to define more specifically what the phrase "political activities" means.

Under the 2012 law, nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign funding and engage in political activities must register with the government as "foreign agents."

The legislature's online resource for draft laws published a description on January 22 saying that the bill would define "political activities" as holding public gatherings or rallies, issuing public appeals to state authorities, issuing public assessments of official decisions, issuing assessments of elections or their outcomes, or the distribution of such assessments by any means.

Under the changes, an NGO is engaged in political activity if it tries "to influence the development or implementation of state policy or the formation of state bodies and local self-government organs." Monitoring elections or calling for referendums are also listed as political activities.

Activities in the areas of science, culture, art, health care, sports, and social aid are specifically defined as nonpolitical activities.

The Duma must now consider and vote on the proposed amendments.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax
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