Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Moscow’s First Response to ‘Kremlin List’ – An Expansive Definition of Sovereignty and Its Violation

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 31 -- In response to the publication of “the Kremlin list” as well as the restrictions imposed on Russian athletes at the Olympics, the Commission for the Defense of State Sovereignty in the upper house of the Russian parliament is preparing a law containing an expensive definition of sovereignty and thus expanding the list of actions which violate it.

            The RBC news agency quotes one of those preparing the legislation, Lyudmila Bokova, as saying that “there exist a multitude of facts of interference by foreign powers in the internal affairs of our country.” To counter them, she says, Russia needs a “mirror-like” response to what others are doing (

                One of the first steps,” Bokova continues, in this process is to insert in the legal code precise definitions of “sovereignty” and “interference in the sovereignty of the country.”  Boris Nadezhdin, a specialist on regional legislation who is participating in drafting the bill, says that there is agreement among the senators on several important facts.

            They believe, he says, that interference in the internal affairs of Russia includes all actions “not based on international law and international agreements” that are intended to “influence the decisions of the state organs of the country.”  And sovereignty is defined in the new legislation as “the completeness of the power of the state within the country.”

            Anything which “threatens this completeness of power is illegal,” Nadezhdin says, because “it has as its goal the violation of the course of the political process,” something he suggests constitutes “interference.” Others, RBC says, have an even more expansive view of sovereignty and those actions that would constitute its violation.

            Perhaps significantly, the news agency continues, people in the Duma said that “they had not heard about the development of such a legislative action. Specifically Pavel Krasheninnikov, head of the lower house’s committee on legislation, said that he had not taken part in any drafting and therefore couldn’t comment.

According to the draft so far, the agency reports, “under the term ‘interference’ in the first instance fall sanctions toward Russians,” the activity of NGOs financed from abroad and taking part in political processes in Russia.  Those actions, which would become illegal, would include polling about electoral outcomes.
Some in the Federation Council have been pushing for such a law since the commission was created last summer.  The publication of the American “Kremlin list” gave new impulse to their plans, the news agency says, adding that the legislators certainly would not have acted without the go ahead from the Kremlin.
Yekaterina Schulmann of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service says, however, that the Federation Council may simply have wanted to get out of the gate in this process before anyone else in order to solidify or even “monopolize” its role on foreign policy questions.
            The draft legislation will be taken up by the upper chamber sometime in February.

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