Human rights activists: ‘Stop ordering NGOs about!’

posted 2 Apr 2014, 14:58 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Apr 2014, 15:09 ]
1 April 2014

Source: (info)
The Federal Council is preparing its latest, most severe amendments to the NGO law, writes Radio Svoboda, citing The Independent. In particular, it proposes to allow the Ministry of Justice to independently decide whether to declare an NGO as a foreign agent. In addition, the ministry will be able to fine NGOs for ‘failing to provide reports on time.’

According to members of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, money received by NGOs from abroad can be used against the authorities for the financing of rallies and demonstrations.

Senators cite the example of Ukraine, where the majority of NGOs supported the opposition. But what has this to do with grants for projects and the label of ‘foreign agents’?

At a recent meeting with members of the Federation Council, Vladimir Putin did not rule out bringing in changes to the legislation on NGOs. Putin appealed “not to leave loopholes for those who work not to protect the interests of Russian citizens, but to protect the interests of foreign authorities inside Russia itself.”

The preparation for amendments to the NGO law has outraged human rights activists. “Officials are devising a whole host of laws in order that they may order us around more easily. But we intend to defeat the authorities in this,” declared the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Ludmilla Alekseeva.

In 2012, a law came in to force which obliged NGOs financed from abroad that participate in political activities to register as ‘foreign agents’.

Russian NGOs boycotted this discriminatory law as contrary to the Russian Constitution, as well as the European Convention of Human Rights and Freedoms.

Human Rights activists have appealed to the Constitutional Court and the European Court with complaints on this discriminatory law.

Translated by Nathalie Corbett