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Moscow Helsinki Group says activities of NGOs severely restricted in Russia

21 February 2013 

Source: (info)
Russian legislation severely restricts the activities of non-governmental organizations, according to a report on the right of association in Russia in 2012 by Moscow Helsinki Group.

In 2012 the legislation on NGOs underwent what have almost been the most serious changes there have been in recent years, commented the author of the report, Olga Gnezdilova. According to Olga Gnezdilova, these changes nullifited the positive developments in the legislation that took place in 2008–2011.

"Many laws are characterized by an absence of clear terminology and poor legal drafting, that is why NGOs are concerned by the possibility of arbitrary interpretation and selective application of the new legislation,” Olga Gnezdilova writes.

According to the expert of the Moscow Helsinki Group, the legislation on NGOs is contradictory, and as a result the application of the law tends to be arbitrary, when during inspections an unlimited number of documents can be requested by the authorities for checking. The registration of NGOs is much more complex and costly than the registration of a commercial organization, and the number of rejections remains high, Rosbalt reports.

"Threats to human rights defenders and attacks on them, go unpunished as they have always done. Only an insignificant number of cases are investigated, and in very few of these are the guilty parties brought to justice. There are continuous and unfounded attempts to prosecute the heads of NGOs under the criminal and administrative law in connection with their human rights work,” Olga Gnezdilova said.