Authorities in Russia have effectively banned investigative news outlet The Project after declaring it an “undesirable” organization as part of the Kremlin’s latest crackdown on independent media.
"The reason for this decision was the fact that its activities pose a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation," the Prosecutor-General's Office said in a statement on July 15.
Eight journalists were also labeled as “foreign agents,” including reporters from The Project, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Open Media, according to a July 15 update of a Justice Ministry registry.
Russia’s controversial “foreign agent” legislation was adopted in 2012 and has been modified repeatedly. It requires nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign assistance and that the government deems to be engaged in political activity to be registered, to identify themselves as “foreign agents,” and to submit to audits.
The "undesirable" organization law, adopted in May 2015 and since updated, was part of a series of regulations pushed by the Kremlin that squeezed many nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that received funding from foreign sources -- mainly from Europe and the United States.
At the end of 2020, the legislation was modified again to allow the Russian government to include individuals, including foreign journalists, on the "foreign agent" list and to impose restrictions on them.
A Council of Europe legal advisory body earlier this month sharply criticized those amendments, saying they constitute “serious violations” of basic human rights and will have a “chilling effect” on political life inside the country.