True to his Chekist personal heritage, Putin arranges for contact with foreign NGOs to be punished as high treason and/or espionage, if those organizations “endanger the security of Russia.” The existing law makes reference to the “external security” of the country; the new law ominously omits the foreign security nexus.
Russian politicians who are neither in Putin’s pocket nor frustrated latter-day Stalinists agree that the omission of the foreign security criterion will enable contact with foreign organizations which cause purely internal political problems to be classified as high treason and espionage.
Don’t think it will happen? It has, already. Most of the Red Army purges of 1937-38 were on the nominal basis of collaboration with foreign intelligence networks. The Harbinisty, those Russians who had gone to live in China to work on the China branch line of the trans-Siberian railroad, were lured back home, only to be slaughtered almost to a man. Their “crime”? Acting as Japanese spies. And on. And on. And on. The allegation of foreign intelligence collaboration/agency was one of the NKVD’s top three charges to paste on an arrestee, right up there with “counter-revolutionary activity” and “counter-revolutionary agitation.” Of course, the latter two also came with the “Trostkyite” sub-flavor. And so forth.
And this is the fellow to whom Dear Leader has promised “more flexibility” after the November elections.