A member of the governing coalition in Ukraine’s “Popular Front” announced that it plans to table a bill that would register entities such as human rights and civil society groups as “agents acting under the influence of an aggressor state.”
Proponents of the bill, including Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, state that it will help to protect the upcoming election from Russian interference. Therefore, the bill will target organizations that either directly or indirectly serve the interests of the Russian Federation.
Opponents say this will be a major setback to the right of Freedom of Association. There has already been an increase in attacks on the civil society organizations who aim to expose corruption and protest Ukrainian officials. Just in the first nine months of 2018, there have been over 50 attacks against activists and human rights defenders including assault, arson and disruption of property, beatings and harassment.
Creating a “foreign agents” law would only worsen the attitude toward human rights organizations and civil society groups creating the perception to authorities that these groups are disloyal to the state. As seen in other countries, like Russia, the creation of a law like this creates drastic restrictions to the freedom of association.