The Duma in Search of an Enemy: Statement by Memorial

Source: HRO.org (info), 13/07/12

· Freedom of association  · Human rights defenders

Since May, the activities of the State Duma have acquired a hysterical tone.

In rapid succession, the Duma has reviewed bills whose sole purpose is to preserve the government’s monopoly on power.

After adopting a series of changes to the law on rallies that were politically precarious and legally unsound, the Duma, with firecracker speed, introduced changes to the law on NGOs. From the remarkable swiftness with which the Duma acted, one might have thought the enemy was already at the gates of the capital and only changes to NGO legislation would be able to save the Motherland.

Also remarkable is the falsity of the claims—only verbal, of course—that these changes are based on previously existing foreign experience.

But what is most striking (and most revealing) is the complete disregard for public opinion. Practically every leading civil society organization in Russia has spoken out against the NGO bill, in addition to the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, the Human Rights Ombudsman and even the Public Chamber of Russia, which was set up by the Kremlin.

But their objections are not discussed in the Duma.

The reason for this is clear: the new bill, utterly pointless from a content perspective, has only one purpose — to provide a legal foundation for branding political opponents as foreign mercenaries.

This method of “solving” urgent problems was used on a regular basis during Soviet times. It appears the current leadership has understood nothing about our country’s history, and has learned nothing.

13.07.2012

Board of the Memorial Society
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