Ministry of Justice: Russian Philanthropic Organizations Are Not Foreign Agents

26 October 2012 

Source: (info)

The Ministry of Justice in Russia will not take action against philanthropic organizations under the recently adopted Law on “Foreign Agents,” even if these organizations actively influence public opinion. This announcement was made by deputy director of the Ministry’s department for NGO affairs, Tatiana Vahgina, on 26 October at the Russian Donors' Forum, a coalition of private and non-governmental organizations working in philanthropy. 

News of Vahgina’s announcement was released by the Agora Human Rights Association, citing the acting Oleg Sharipkov, director of the Civic Union, a local community foundation in Penza, who attended the conference.

“At the plenary session, Vahgina declared that the majority of the organizations present in the room would not be affected by the new law,” Sharipkov told Agora. “She noted that despite the fact that we shape public opinion, argue with the government and put pressure on it to do the right thing, we do so within the boundaries of our statutory activities and within the boundaries of the law. Meanwhile, everyone who sat on the presidium started nodding in agreement, including the Minister for Open Government, Mikhail Abyzov.”

Vahgina stressed that the law does not equate philanthropy with political action, and therefore does not give a legal basis for including philanthropic organizations on the registry of “foreign agents.”

According to Oleg Sharipkov, Tatyana Vahgina noted that many of the terms that appeared “in the law on NGOs as Foreign Agents” were also difficult for the Ministry of Justice to interpret and understand. However, she did not clarify which specific terms she had in mind.