Russia's interior ministry has drafted a law that could soon require foreigners to sign a "loyalty agreement" as they enter the country. The controversial agreement includes clauses against criticizing the government's policies, discrediting Soviet military history, or contravening traditional family values. This initiative, reported by the state-run TASS news agency, is seen as a move by President Vladimir Putin to shield Russia's "sacred" civilization from what he perceives as the West's decadence.
War in Ukraine and Russia's Existential Battle
The backdrop of this development is Russia's war in Ukraine, which President Vladimir Putin initiated in February 2022. Putin characterizes this conflict as part of a broader existential struggle against Western influence. This new legislation, if passed, would further tighten the already stringent regulations imposed on foreigners from countries Russia deems "unfriendly" due to sanctions over the war.
Restricting Criticism and Propaganda
The proposed agreement goes beyond just curtailing criticism of official policy. It also targets 'propaganda about non-traditional sexual relations' and 'distorting the historical truth about the feat of the Soviet people in the defense of the Fatherland and its contribution to the victory over fascism.' In essence, it aims to prevent foreigners from disparaging or denying 'significant moral' values, such as the traditional definition of marriage and family.
What's Next for the Draft Law?
Even as it generates international attention, the draft law still has several hurdles to clear before becoming law. It must be introduced to the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, undergo committee review, and pass through multiple readings. Only after these procedural steps can it be submitted to President Putin for his signature. The exact consequences for violating the agreement remain unclear at this stage.