Vladimir Putin

PEN International and 21 other international human rights and free expression organizations have issued an open letter to the Russian Duma protesting a draft law that would label non-governmental organizations that receive any international funding “foreign agents.” The draft bill is the latest in a long line of Putinesque maneuvers aimed at chilling civil society in Russia; Russian PEN is only now emerging from a six-year legal battle stemming from an earlier attempt to shackle human rights and free expression organizations. The “foreign agents” proposal comes amid a wave of legislation clearly aimed at squelching dissent. Last month, Putin signed a bill imposing massive penalties on peaceful protesters and protest organizers, and the Duma is currently considering a bill that would give the government substantial control over Internet content.