Russia mulls ‘loyalty’ pledge for foreigners to enter

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Foreigners entering Russia could be required to sign a “loyalty agreement” upon arrival, pledging not to criticize Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, under new rules being prepared by the interior ministry.

Russia has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent and ahead of a 2024 presidential election, expected to prolong President Vladimir Putin’s long rule until at least 2030.

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The move would oblige foreigners to comply with strict laws banning criticism of the conflict in Ukraine, and not to make positive statements about the LGBTQ community, the state-run TASS news agency reported.

TASS, citing a draft document, said the foreigner would “agree, by entering Russia, to comply with prohibitions established with the aim of protecting the national interests of Russia.”

The person would agree not to “discredit in any form the foreign and domestic state policy of the Russian Federation.”

The foreigner would also comply with not sharing public information about LGBTQ relationships, under Russian legislation, and refrain from “distorting the historical truth” of the Soviet role in World War II.

TASS said the document would soon be put to the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament.

It gave no details on what kind of punishment individuals could face for breaking the agreement.

The Kremlin refused to comment on the possible new rules at a briefing with journalists on Wednesday.

Central Asian migrants make up a large group of foreigners in Russia and have been a target of military recruitment drives for fighting in Ukraine.

Many Westerners left Russia after Moscow launched its offensive in February last year.

Western media in Russia has significantly reduced its presence in Moscow, fearing for the safety of its staff after strict censorship laws were introduced.

Russia has punished thousands of its own citizens for denouncing the Ukraine offensive under strict censorship laws.

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