Kyrgyzstan: Foreign Agent Bill May Be Scrapped
Kyrgyzstan may be on the verge of ditching a contentious draft bill on designating internationally funded nongovernmental groups as “foreign agents” in a development possibly related to a thaw in relations with Washington.
Members of parliament discussing the bill on February 29 seemed divided over its benefits or what the law was even supposed to be about. Meanwhile, the groups most threatened by the legislation have been lobbying hard for the proposal to be scrapped.
Asides from an undesirable label, the law would dramatically increase the amount of paperwork that NGOs would have to submit to justify their continued existence. That kind of red tape saps time, energy and resources, while increasing government control over the sector.
Commentators have commonly characterized both the foreign agents law and another proposed bill to criminalize open support for homosexuals punishable by jail time as extensions of Russian potlical and cultural influence. President Almazbek Atambayev has proven highly receptive to anti-Western rhetoric emerging from Moscow.
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