February 13, 2024

Congress of "Foreign Agents" Held in Berlin


Congress of "Foreign Agents" Held in Berlin
"The best people of Russia have become foreign agents. Shame on the authorities!" Ivan Abaturov, Wikimedia Commons

Russian émigrés gathered in Berlin on February 2 for a "Congress of Foreign Agents." First proposed in 2023, the event was hosted by an organizing committee of journalists, politicians, and activists who have all been designated as "foreign agents" by the Kremlin.

Participants in the congress offered various reasons for attending, from networking to offering assistance to each other abroad to organizing protection of their legal rights, to simple socializing. Speakers shared their experiences with the Russian Ministry of Justice, comparing how long they had been listed in the foreign agent register and the number of criminal articles held against them. 

Artist Yulia Tsvetkova expressed skepticism at the rationality of an assembly of "foreign agents" out in the open in an expensive German hotel. Despite this, she is interested in the idea of rebranding their accusatory political designation into something more meaningful. Human rights activist Lev Ponomarev, a "foreign agent" since 2020, told an audience he would not "pretend they are all one," but declared they were united by the fact that "Chekists hate us."

Berlin, a perpetually popular city for Russians in exile, has seen the number of Russian expats increase since the beginning of Russia's war on Ukraine.

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