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Russia wants foreign visitors to sign ‘loyalty’ pledge to regime

People make selfie photo in front of the Kremlin's Spasskaya tower and St. Basil's cathedral in downtown Moscow on Nov. 10, 2023.    (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
Bloomberg News

Russia wants foreigners entering the country to sign a “loyalty agreement” pledging not to challenge the Kremlin on issues like President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and a ban on promoting LGBT relationships, according to the Tass news service.

Under a draft law prepared by the Interior Ministry, foreign entrants would sign a declaration agreeing to comply with prohibitions “established to protect the national interests of Russia,” the state-run news service reported Wednesday, citing the document. It was unclear if the measure would apply only to short-stay visitors or also to foreigners granted long-term visas to live and work in Russia.

Th draft law would oblige them not to “discredit” Russia’s policies and political leaders, or deny “significant moral and other values, including ideas about marriage as a union of a man and a woman” by engaging in “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” Tass said. Attempts to “distort” the Soviet Union’s role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II would also be covered by the pledge.

Since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has conducted the most sweeping crackdown on dissent at home in decades, jailing Putin’s most prominent critics and forcing others to flee abroad to escape imprisonment. With Putin likely to announce his candidacy shortly for a fifth presidential term in March elections, officials now appear to be focused on suppressing any potential protest or criticism of his rule.

Russia’s High Court is due to hear an application Thursday from the Justice Ministry to declare the “international LGBT public movement” as extremist.

Russian authorities are trying to strengthen control during the election campaign to avoid provocations because they view all foreigners as potential agents of the West, political scientist Tatiana Stanovaya said.