Results of the "hunt for foreign agents"

posted 13 Jul 2013, 14:14 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 13 Jul 2013, 14:18 ]
9 July 2013 

Source: (info)
Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has reported to President Vladimir Putin on the results of the recent wave of inspections of NGOs. According to the Prosecutor General, the inspections were conducted to oversee implementation of the 'foreign agents' law, the website of the President of Russia reports.

...What we can see is that there is no registration taking place, and the register is empty. We planned to do these inspections with personnel from the Prosecutor General's Office alongside specialists from the Ministry of Justice, the Federal Tax Service and academics because it was essential to assess what was being done that constitutes political activity. For that reason we brought in academics, the Central Election Commission, I mean, the inspections we carried out were thorough and comprehensive. For my part, I believe that we were absolutely right to have carried out inspections in this manner.

As a result of the inspections, the Prosecutor General's Office has identified 215 non-profit organisations that fully met the criteria for being 'foreign agents' before the law took effect; that is, they received funding from overseas and were engaged in political activities, cites the Prosecutor General as saying.

Chaika said that "193 of them had discontinued their activities or had given up their foreign funding".

"As of today, I must report that since the law came into force in November last year up to April of this year 2,226 non-profit organisations received a total of 30.8 bn roubles. Furthermore, if we subtract the non-profit organisations that were set up by the authorities in the Russian regions by local government, and by the central government (which results in a reduction of 6 bn roubles), non-profit organisations received 24 bn roubles, and let's say these are ones that have been operating without the involvement of the Russian authorities.

"Some non-profit organisations were seeking an opportunity to get around the law; they were seeking loopholes, particularly Agora and Golos. They had a very extensive network of organisations like themselves, with the same names, in the regions. They were receiving funding and then distributing it to all of the others, and those others are not foreign agents. Or they received funding as individuals." 

In addition, the Prosecutor General announced that 17 NGOs had been receiving funding from foreign embassies. According to the Prosecutor General, this represents a violation of the Vienna Convention.

Putin tasked Chaika with analyzing the findings of the inspections and coming up with suggestions on how to improve the law.

"It is necessary to draw a distinction between purely political activity, domestic political activity, and what is humanitarian activity, in the broadest sense of the word," said President Putin.

He instructed the Prosecutor General to continue monitoring the implementation of the law, and making timely interventions in the realm of NGOs. "It goes without saying that we must get to the stage where the law is being applied and adhered to by everyone, without exception," said Putin.