Officially Stated Purpose of NGO Inspections at Variance with Task Set by Prosecutor General’s Office

29 March 2013 

Source: (info
The Prosecutor General’s Office has recommended that its regional branches pay special attention during the inspections to those NGOs financed from foreign sources, and also those that ‘take part in political activity on the territory of the Russian Federation in the interests of foreign funders.’

As Kommersant wrote on 29 March, citing a document setting out the tasks laid down by the Prosecutor’s Office, the recommendations are at variance with the stated purpose of the inspections. 

The document explains that, as a rule, such NGOs are human rights organizations, religious organizations, ethnic organizations, youth organizations and foundations of one kind or another. Prosecutors have also been recommended to pay attention to organizations that take part in demonstrations and other street events, reports. 

The tasks set in practice confirm the version put forward by human rights defenders and members of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, who allege that the real purpose of the inspections is to find so-called ‘foreign agents’. Member of the Presidential Council on Human Rights and head of the Agency for Social Information, which has already been inspected, Elena Topoleva-Soldunova is bemused why human rights defenders are being asked about the organization of street demonstrations and sources of funding. "Moreover, if prosecutors are looking for extremism, then why are they doing this among human rights, ecological and charitable organizations?’ Topoleva-Soldunova asks perplexed. 

The publication points out that the Prosecutor General’s Office has so far shown no interest in the nationalist movement ‘Russians’ [Русские], one of the few organizations earlier found to be extremist and meeting the criteria of the Prosecutor General’s Office. 

On 28 March the head of the press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office, Marina Gridnev, said that the inspections are being carried out according to a plan that had been confirmed in 2012 ’as a result of information received about the continuation of banned, and also re-founded, organizations of an ultra-nationalist and radical religious orientation’. 

President Putin has also spoken about the situation. According to him, the purpose of the inspections ‘is to check to what extent’ the activities of NGOs ‘correspond to their stated goals.’