Russia’s Patriot Games

Writing in the Moscow Times, Yevgeny Kiselyov points out that the latest changes to the criminal code on treason present some frightening possibilities.

Human rights advocates are in shock. The definition of an “act” of treason is so loosely defined that prosecutors and law enforcement agencies can interpret it any way they see fit. Moreover, even inactivity could qualify as an “act” of treason. Imagine that a journalist or political commentator submits to the foreign press an article that criticizes the constitutional amendment to extend the presidential term from four to six years or expresses the same idea to a foreign diplomat during an embassy reception. That could easily qualify under the new law as consulting a foreign organization on a subject directed against Russia’s “constitutional order.”

And what if a person, after finding out that his fellow citizen has established a “suspicious contact” with a foreigner or foreign organization, fails to inform the police or Federal Security Service in a timely manner about the suspected traitor? His failure to act would also make him guilty of high treason under the new legislation.