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Federation Council aims to introduce registration of volunteers

9 January 2013 

Source: (info)
Members of the Federation Council are to submit a bill to the State Duma which obliges all volunteers to be listed in a special register, writes, citing RBK daily. The concept of the bill "On volunteers" was developed in the Public Chamber, but has undergone significant changes and envisages strict government regulation of volunteer activities.

As reported by RBK daily with links to its own sources, senators have added a rule for the creation of a volunteer register where all official volunteers will have to be listed. Meanwhile, some norms from the concept bill have been preserved, in particular, those concerning the conclusion of agreements between volunteers and NGOS, or "organisers of volunteer activity." It is the authors' intention that these regulations will allow volunteers to expect compensation for their expenses, insurance and other safeguards.

"I have not seen the final version of the bill, but I am aware that very little remains of the text written by the people from the volunteering community," said Darya Miloslavskaya, Public Chamber member and one of the bill's authors, to RBK daily. "A lot of unnecessary regulation had appeared in the last version I read, and it was harsher."

The Federal Council working group prepared the bill without consultations with members of the public. The senate version of the text was not even shown to those who developed the concept of the bill. The head of the Public Chamber Commission on Social Policy, Elena Topoleva, announced her plan to insist on public consultations being held on the bill before its official introduction to the State Duma.

The Public Chamber prepared the concept of a law on volunteering in July. The main idea behind the bill was to "establish systematic and comprehensive legal regulation of the public relations arising in the sphere of volunteer activity," as stated in the bill's conception. Miloslavskaya explained at the time that the law would be aimed at helping charitable and public foundations to legally formalise their relations with volunteers and to regulate liability of both parties.

The leader of the working group for developing proposals to improve legislation on volunteering, Federation Council member Aleksandr Borisov, promised that the bill would go through public consultations before reaching the State Duma. There were plans to invite volunteers to a working group session, and also to involve them in the discussion of the document online.

Civic activists responded critically to the concept of the law. Maria Baronova, one of the organisers of humanitarian aid and volunteers for Krymsk, said that a law on volunteer activity was needed, but that it should be developed by people with real experience of that type of work. She stressed that proposals by lawyers should be evaluated by representatives of established volunteer organisations.

The head of the Union of Volunteer Organisations and Movements, Vladimir Khromov, spoke about the large amount of unnecessary paperwork and reporting as well as other drawbacks of the bill. He expressed concern that a volunteer register would be created and that volunteers would not be able to work without a special pass.

In 2010 thousands of volunteers helped put out wildfires in central Russia and aided fire victims. At the scene of the natural disaster in Krymsk, hundreds of volunteers took part in restoration works and dispensing humanitarian aid to victims. Only a day after the tragedy the collection of aid had already been organised in many cities across the country.