News of the Day: 6 May 2021

Meduza: In Russia, you don’t have to be a legal entity to be designated as a “foreign agent” — all you need is a pulse. Last December, for the first time, the Justice Ministry added a handful of individuals to its registry. The authorities named five journalists and activists. The designations imposed the same public accounting requirements on these people that burden Meduza, which was named a “foreign agent” in late April 2020. In other words, they’re now forced to mark anything they write or share online (or in the mass media) with a loud, inescapable notification that they have “foreign agent” status in Russia. The law also demands that these individuals create formal legal entities, in order to report their earnings and spending to the government. Russia’s regulations do not stipulate, however, that each “foreign agent” needs a separate legal entity, and so three “agents” on the Justice Ministry’s list actually created a joint LLC. To learn more about how this status changes ordinary life, Meduza spoke to journalists and “foreign agents” Denis Kamalyagin, Sergey Markelov, and Lyudmila Savitskaya.

RFE/RL: Lawyers of the Team 29 (Komanda 29) judicial group have appealed a decision to restrict the activities of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). The Team 29 said in a statement that its lawyers Maksim Olenichev and Valeria Vetoshkina filed the appeal with the Moscow First Court of Appeals on May 6. The Moscow City Court ruled on April 27 that the activities of the FBK and another group associated with Navalny, the Citizens’ Rights Defense Foundation (FZPG), must be temporarily banned from using media, placing materials on the Internet, taking part in elections and referendums, and carrying out some banking operations.

CPJ: Telegram was meant to be blocked in Russia in April 2020 when Aleksandr Pichugin published a satirical article about the spread of COVID-19 on his channel Sorokin Khvost – an allusion to a Russian version of the saying, “A little bird told me.” Four days later, uniformed officers came to the journalist’s home and pushed him to the floor in front of his pregnant wife, he recalled in a conversation with CPJ in early 2021. He was detained overnight, as documented by CPJ, and later fined 300,000 rubles (US$3,966) for spreading “fake news”; his appeal was rejected in January 2021. Telegram resisted Russia’s attempts to censor it, which CPJ and other observers condemned at the time. The platform remained popular among independent journalists until Roskomnadzor, the media and telecommunications regulator, finally lifted its 26-month ban in June 2020, according to news reports and CPJ interviews.

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