Human Rights Council proposes abolition of law on ‘foreign agents’

22 April 2013 


Source: HRO.org (info)
The head of the Presidential Council for Human Rights (HRC), Mikhail Fedotov, has proposed abolishing the law adopted in July 2012 on ‘foreign agents’, the newspaper, Kommersant, reported on Monday 22nd April.

According to Fedotov, all the necessary tools for regulating activities of NGOs and human rights organisations are already contained within the civil code, in particular, an article which gives definition to contracts with agents and foreign principals. In this regard, Fedotov says it is possible to simply abolish the law on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which introduced the concept of the ‘foreign agent’. 

According to Lenta.ru, the head of the HRC sent a letter containing the proposal to the head of the Presidential Council for Codification and Improvement of Civil Legislature, Veniamin Yakovlev. It has not yet been possible to obtain the comments of Veniamin Yakovlev. 

As Pavel Chikov, a member of the HRC, explained to Kommersant, the civil code takes precedence over specific legislation. Therefore, he believes that the elimination of the NGO law would permit the cleaning up of Russian legislation ‘from unnecessary junk’, among which Chikov provisions on extremism, foreign agents, and political activities.

Earlier, the HRC looked at the possibility of introducing significant changes to the NGO law. Just five draft amendments were considered, stipulating, in particular, a change in the method of definition of foreign agents. However, as a result, the head of the council decided that it is easier to repeal the law as a whole.

The NGO law came into force in November 2012. It requires all non-profit organisations engaging in political activities in Russia and receiving funding from abroad to register with the Ministry of Justice as ‘foreign agents’. In March 2013, to identify such organisations checks on NGOs began, with the participation of prosecutors, the Ministry of Justice and tax authorities, which provoked great concern in the West.
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