The Kyrgyz parliament passes a “foreign agents” statute modeled after Russia.


International observers worry that a bill that Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted on Thursday, modeled after Russia’s “foreign agents” statute, could limit the freedom of nongovernmental organizations and independent media in the Central Asian republic.

In a joint statement, a delegation from the European Union and many Western embassies criticized the law, claiming that passing it would “contravene international norms” and endanger foreign aid to the 6.6 million-person country.

The proposed legislation imposes burdensome reporting obligations on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that obtain foreign money and participate in activities considered to be political.

Excerpts from the bill published by aim to prohibit non-governmental organizations from “attempting to shape public opinion” about matters of governance and indicate that certain organizations “interfere in the political life of the state.”

International observers have expressed concern that the measure could spell the end for the nation’s smaller civil society organizations, which are already marginalized.

Matteo Mecacci, the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s office for democratic institutions and human rights, expressed his concerns in a statement last month: “If this legislation is adopted, I am worried it would have an overwhelmingly negative impact on civil society, human rights defenders, and the media in Kyrgyzstan.”

Local media reported that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken angered Japarov in February by writing a letter expressing his worries about the measure.In recent times, the predominantly Muslim nation with mountains has been drawing nearer to Russia. Kyrgyzstan is a part of a security alliance headed by Moscow, and Russia declared last year that it will endeavor to “develop” its military facilities in Kyrgyzstan.

Since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia has tightened its own “foreign agents” law, which was initially passed in 2012. This is indicative of the hostile and mistrustful atmosphere toward the West, which Moscow has accused of interfering in its domestic affairs.

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