Federation Council gets ready to discuss amendments to ‘Foreign Agents’ law

posted 1 Aug 2013, 08:00 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 1 Aug 2013, 08:02 ]
30 July 2013 

Source: HRO.org (info)
The Federation Council's Committee on Constitutional Legislation will hold round-table talks to discuss possible amendments to the law regulating nonprofit organisations. This announcement was made by the upper chamber's press office, citing the chair of the committee, Andrei Klishas. According to the latter, talks will be organised as soon as the Office of the Prosecutor General has drawn up proposals for possible amendments.

Klishas said that the round-table talks will be conducted with the participation of representatives from academia and the nonprofit organisations themselves. He stressed the fact that he is ready to consider possible changes to any article or norm of the law, provided that concrete examples are presented to show how they hinder nonprofits from functioning freely. "We ourselves might also come up with suggestions for changes of some kind", he declared.

According to the chair of the committee, Russian laws regarding nonprofits are far more liberal than the corresponding legislation in several foreign countries, including the USA. Klishas particularly emphasised the fact that financing nonprofit activities from abroad is not - in principle - forbidden, but simply requires formal notification, reports the website Grani.ru.

In a meeting with the prosecutor general Yury Chaika on 9 July, Putin himself announced that these concepts need to be clarified. The president charged Chaika with analysing the results of the inspections of nonprofits and drawing up proposals to improve the law. "We need to make clear distinctions between political activities, domestic political activities, and humanitarian (in the broad sense of the term) activities", said the president. He also declared that it was necessary to continue monitoring nonprofits and to respond efficiently to possible violations of the ‘foreign agents’ law. "Needless to say, we have to make sure that everyone follows and adheres to the law, without exception", announced Putin.

One day later, Chaika, reporting to the Federation Council, remarked that the notion of political activity needed to be clarified. The speaker of the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, announced that the Council will work on amendments to the law regarding nonprofits "in collaboration with both the Office of the Prosecutor General and the heads of nonprofits and civil society organisations." According to her, the fundamental purpose of clarifying the concept of political activity should not be to expand or to shorten the list of "foreign agents", but to enable the nonprofits and those who inspect them to determine with greater precision the exact nature of the activities that are being conducted.