The European Union has urged Russia to stop its “unabated crackdown” on independent media outlets, journalists, and civil-society organizations, calling the clampdown ahead of parliamentary elections in September “particularly worrisome.”
In a statement published late on July 22, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell cited recent decisions by the Russian authorities to designate a number of journalists and a legal-aid nongovernmental organization, the Institute of Law and Public Policy, as “foreign agents,” and to declare the media outlet The Project an “undesirable organization.”
The statement also mentioned the case of another legal-aid NGO, Komanda 29, which has decided to cease its activities following what EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali called “pressure and unjustified accusations” by the authorities.
With support for the Kremlin-backed ruling United Party sagging, the moves are seen as part of a wider crackdown on media and civic organizations ahead of September 19 parliamentary elections.
“The cumulative impact of these latest developments, in conjunction with a raft of repressive measures targeting highly respected NGOs and individuals in Russia, results in further quashing dissent, opposition, critical voices, and independent institutions from the Russian public sphere,” Massrali said in the statement.
The 27-nation bloc “stands in solidarity with Russian civil society, human rights defenders and independent journalists and will continue to support them in their important work,” she added.