A recent memo from Russia's Society for Protection of Consumers' Rights about traveling to the Crimea sparked a large-scale scandal in Russia that lasts for several days already. The memo even attracted President Putin's attention, who said that the organization was serving the interests of foreign states.
The Society for the Protection of Consumers' Rights did not show any care for the citizens of the country, Putin said at a plenary session of the Public Chamber on Tuesday. "What is this about? Is this about caring for Russian citizens? This is about serving the interests of foreign states against Russia," President Putin said.
During the weekend, the Society for the Protection of Consumers' Rights, known for the Russian initials as OZPP, published recommendations for those Russian holiday makers, who were going to travel to the Crimea for summer holidays. "Russian travel companies, as a rule, do not inform consumers about possible problems that tourists may experience when visiting the occupied territory, because travel companies are more interested in selling tourist products," the message posted on the website of the society said.
The memo continued with strange instructions: "Upon the necessity to visit the Crimean Peninsula, one should comply with the legislation of Ukraine and obtain permission from Ukrainian border guards when crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border through existing checkpoint in the Kherson region."
The memo from the OZPP immediately attracted public attention. The news received an extensive coverage in the Russian media before State Duma MPs and Office of the Prosecutor General paid attention to it. The supervisory agency found element of offense under Part 2 of Article 280.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation - public calls for actions aimed at violating the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.
The Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications (Roskomnadzor) started blocking the OZPP website at the request of the Office of the Prosecutor General.
It goes without saying that the "recommendations" had one goal - to trigger a scandal. Noteworthy, it was reported that OZPP representatives denied any involvement in the publication of the memo. Supposedly, the recommendations were published on the website of the agency at the initiative of its chairman, Mikhail Anshakov.
It is worthy of note that the register of non-profit organizations (foreign agents) does not include the consumer rights protection society (OZPP). However, the chairman of the agency has never concealed sympathy for members of Maidan riots and was collecting support for the "rebellious people" during the events of 2014 in Ukraine.
Russia's law about foreign agents raises a lot of complaints on the part of human rights advocates. Representatives of the Presidential Council on Human Rights have repeatedly called to either amend or abolish the law.
President Vladimir Putin touched upon the issue during the plenary session of the Public Chamber. The president noted that some formulations of the law need be corrected.
"There was a lot of controversy about so-called foreign agents. I believe and agree with those colleagues who say that some things require additional adjustments. This is true," said the head of state.
According to Putin, some formulations of the law may at times cause damage to the work of pro-Russian organizations that are loyal to Russia and work to help people," Putin said, RIA Novosti reports.
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