Sunday, May 31, 2020

Putin Significantly and Dangerously Broadens Definition of Extremism

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 29 – In signing off on the new version of Moscow’s strategy for countering extremism over the next five years, Vladimir Putin has significantly expanded the definition of extremism, although broad and elastic in Russian practice, and thus dangerously put even more individuals and groups at risk of criminal sanctions.

The new document (, discussed at, replaces the one adopted in 2014 and in force since then.

It broadens the legal definition of extremism by including a variety of new terms, including “’the ideology of force’” which the document defines as “a combination of views and ideas that justify the use of force for the achievement of political, ideological, religious and other goals.”

Further, it broadens the definition of “radicalism,” suggesting that radicalism involves “the uncompromising attachment to an ideology of force which is characterized by a seeking after decisive and cardinal change of the foundations of the constitutional system of Russia and the violation of the unity and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.”

The 2014 document, in contrast, defined radicalism only as “a deep attachment to the ideology of extremism.” The replacement strategy follows Putin and says that “certain foreign organizations are exerting significant negative influence” on the domestic situation by working under the guise of “’humanitarian, educational, cultural, ethnic, and religious projects.”

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