The Public Chamber and repressive measures against NGOs

posted 21 Dec 2015, 02:37 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 21 Dec 2015, 02:44 ]
17 December 2015

Source: (info)
The so-called ‘Public Chamber of the Russian Federation’ has produced proposals regarding the definition of ‘political NGOs’, a term which carries the threat of being classified as a ‘foreign agent’.

In the view of the Public Chamber team, this should refer to those organizations which ‘hold meetings, publish brochures relating to politics, and act as election observers’. Human rights activists are highly critical of the work of these ‘civil society activists’ appointed by the authorities.

As reported by, citing RБК, the Public Chamber’s proposals were put together by a working group, responsible for producing a definition of NGOs involved in political activity. The task of the working group, headed by the first deputy-head of the Presidential Administration, Vyacheslav Volodin, was to produce, by 20th December, a definition of ‘political activity’ in relation to non-profit organizations.

According to the definition proposed by the government-appointed Public Chamber team, the descriptor ‘political’ should be used for an organization which ‘engages in activities, aimed at changing the policies being carried out by state institutions’ and also aimed at ‘attracting, by any methods, the attention of state institutions and civil society’.

Under such a definition, as far as we can judge, the Public Chamber team has in mind any public actions, including rallies, parades, and public actions. If an organization conducts such an event more than twice a year, it will meet the criterion of ‘political’.

In addition, the PC team considers that an organization which participates, in any way, in elections should be considered as political. This includes participating in the setting up of electoral commissions, or similar commissions for a referendum, putting up candidates, or taking part in agreeing the list of candidates for an election, participating in an initiative group for holding a referendum, acting as election or referendum observers, providing voters or those participating in a referendum with information, and canvassing before an election or a referendum.

The status of an NGO, in the view of the Public Chamber’s team, should also depend upon how it spends its financial resources. If an organization spends not less than 75% of its budget on publishing newspapers, brochures or pamphlets, which contain ‘allusions to politics’ and also ‘lead people to participate in actions and to pay for the expenses of conducting them’, then, in the view of the so-called ‘civil society activists’ from the Public Chamber, such an NGO should be categorized as political.

Translated by Mary McAuley