Russia declares member of Pussy Riot, art collector and satirical “foreign agents”

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Russia on Thursday declared prominent member of the Pussy Riot group, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and prominent satirist Viktor Shenderovich “foreign agents” as authorities continue to crack down on dissent.

The Ministry of Justice has also added several other personalities to its list of “foreign agents”, including journalist Taisiya Bekbulatova, art collector Marat Gelman and Pussy Riot member Veronika Nikulshina.

“These people systematically distribute material to an indefinite circle of people, while receiving foreign funds,” the ministry said in a statement.

Tolokonnikova, 32, is one of three members of Pussy Riot who were sentenced to two years in prison after singing a ‘punk prayer’ denouncing the Russian Orthodox Church’s close ties to President Vladimir Putin in the Central Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow in February 2012.

She and a member of the group were found guilty and sentenced to prison in August 2012.

Shenderovich, 63, is a prominent anti-Kremlin satirist and political observer.

By law, entities identified as “foreign agents” must disclose their sources of funding and accompany all their texts, videos and social media posts with a caption mentioning the content of a “foreign agent”.

The statute is reminiscent of the Soviet-era term “enemy of the people” and is intended to apply to individuals or groups who receive funds from abroad and are involved in any type of “political activity”.

The Kremlin says these measures are necessary due to increased interference from abroad with nongovernmental groups and journalists exploited by outside actors to meddle in Russian affairs.

A number of independent media outlets, including Rain TV and Meduza, a popular Russian-language website, have already been labeled “foreign agents”.

Russia’s largest rights group Memorial – also referred to as a “foreign agent” – was ordered this week by the courts to shut down for a number of alleged transgressions, including failure to use on all its publications the label “foreign agent” and the rationale for terrorism and extremism.

The decision has been denounced by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.

(REUTERS)

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