The new law triggered a monsoon in social networks. In stark contrast with it another novelty got left outside of the scope of the public attention – the legalization of online-petitions in Kazakhstan, while that very new instrument may play an important role in the democratization of this country.
Ilyas Bakhtygaliyev, Political Observer, described the situation, as follows (from his telegram channel):
“This week marked two important civil society and Mass Media events at one time. Petitions were legalized!
The first — the bill was approved by the Senate, effectively legitimizing public petitions in the political arena, so now civil petitions with 50,000 votes will be considered at the government level. This is an important and appropriate step towards political liberalization.
We ain’t got no Foreign Agents?
The second — a registry of individuals receiving money or other assets from abroad was published on the website of the Committee on Revenues of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan. A very positive step towards financial transparency. However, the media and the public immediately labeled it as a list of foreign agents and began comparing it to Russian practices, which is fundamentally incorrect. We do not have any law on foreign agents, and its appearance in the near future is not expected. Moreover, the published list does not directly affect the individuals listed there and does not obligate them to anything.
The US Foreign Agents Registration Act is Far More Tough
For comparison: the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which is currently in effect in the USA, in addition to strict financial control, prohibits the dissemination of «any informational materials… in the interests of a foreign principal» without including a statement in a prominent place that the materials are «disseminated by an agent on behalf of a foreign principal.» So, the «goodwill journalists» were wrong to portray a tragedy out of thin air with stories about harsh state tyranny and suppression of freedom of speech. Everyone deserves the right to know who is who and who is funding their informational activities.