Russia’s president Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed into law a raft of legislation that human rights groups have said will undermine democracy.

The new law says individuals and public entities, involved in Russia’s political developments or collecting data related to Russia’s defense or national security issues must be included on the list of foreign agents.

Putin signed a separate bill imposing penalties of up to five years in prison to those identified as “foreign agents” who fail to inform official entities about their status, and/or refuse to report their activities to Russian authorities.

Last month, Amnesty International slammed the legislation saying it would “drastically limit and damage the work not only of civil society organizations that receive funds from outside Russia but many other groups as well”.

Critics say the controversial law has been arbitrarily applied to target Russian civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and political activists.

On Wednesday, Putin also signed a bill that would allow the state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, to block websites that “discriminate against Russian media.”


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