International

Russia Is Preparing A 'Loyalty Agreement' For Foreign Visitors

Russia's interior ministry has proposed a bill that would force foreign visitors to sign a 'loyalty agreement', prohibiting criticism of official policy, discrediting Soviet military history, and contravening traditional family values.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
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The Russian Interior Ministry has put forth a bill outlining the introduction of a consent form, referred to as a "loyalty agreement," to be signed by foreign visitors entering Russia. The proposed agreement mandates visitors not to challenge the Kremlin on issues such as President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine and a ban on promoting LGBT relationships, according to TASS state news agency.

"The loyalty agreement form represents both a permit from Russian government authorities allowing a given foreign national to enter Russia, on the one hand, and, on the other, the foreigner’s consent to comply with existing prohibitions aimed at ensuring the protection of Russian national interests," the document reads.

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has imposed various restrictions on foreigners from what it designates as "unfriendly countries". These countries are those that have imposed sanctions on Russia over its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. 

With the 2024 presidential election on the horizon, Putin has cast the war as part of an existential battle with the West, saying he will defend Russia's "sacred" civilisation from what he portrays as the West's decadence.

Earlier this month, President Putin approved changes to the law governing presidential elections, imposing new restrictions on media coverage, as reported by local news agencies. Under the amendments, only journalists contractually employed by registered media outlets will be allowed to cover election commission meetings, potentially barring freelancers and independent journalists. The changes also include prohibiting any coverage of the commission’s actions on military bases or in areas under martial law without prior permission from regional and military authorities.

According to the Kremlin, Putin is expected to win the 2024 presidential election if he decides to run for another term in office. However, neither Putin, 71, nor the Kremlin has confirmed his candidacy for another six-year term, which would extend his presidency up to 2030 and potentially beyond.

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