ESTONIA: Government floats idea of foreign agents law

(European Civic Forum on the CIVICUS Monitor) In March, Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu (IRL) indicated that the government could draft a Foreign Agents Act in the upcoming months. He said:

authoritarian states want to prohibit or restrict them in the face of external influences, as Russia does with its law of influence agents. The logic of a democratic state is reversal, the weapon of a democratic state is transparency. Therefore, it would be wise to foresee a certain degree of transparency and disclosure in the intensive information warfare we are in. […] If different associations or persons dealing with third-country affairs take part in various actions in our territory, then it would be wise for society to set certain conditions for informing the public about the functions, roles, resources and what they are doing in the third country influenced(translated from Estonian)”.

Such a proposal would require civil society organisations in Estonia which are “influenced” by foreign countries to be registered as such or dismantled. The Minister’s statement has not raised serious alarm among Estonian NGOs, with most believing the government would not  support such a measure in the end. No further action has been taken since March when the idea was first proposed.