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Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) in Russia Under Scrutiny…

The majority pro-Kremlin party United Russia intends to submit to the State Duma a bill whereby non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that pursue political activity and receive financing from abroad are assigned the status of a foreign agent.

A co-sponsor of the bill MP Alexander Sidyakin commented that the draft law does not ban NGOs or limit their rights. It is intended to make publicly available information about the function of such NGOs as a foreign agent.

An NGO would be regarded as a political organization, with the exception of parties, if it finances and holds political rallies in order to impact state authorities’ decisions aimed at changing their policy and also shapes public opinion for the above-mentioned purpose. Political NGOs would be obliged to issue reports about their activities on a semiannual basis.

NGOs would be required to specify in materials distributed via mass media and the Internet that information is published by an organization acting as a foreign agent.

An authorized federal body is expected to assess information about foreign agents within the framework of the law against money laundering and financing of terrorism.

There is a network of NGOs financed from abroad in Russia, with the purposes of their paymasters looking suspicious, Siidyakin said.

After people see how many agents of influence operate in Russia they will be more active in shaping civil society, he added.

Representatives of NGOs that could be affected by the draft law said that the Kremlin does not need organizations that do not support the president and the government.

Assistant director of Golos Association told Kommersant business daily that some officials believe that NGOs pose a threat of staging a coup allegedly financed from abroad.

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  1. admin July 4, 2012

    MOSCOW, July 3 (Itar-Tass) —— The State Duma Committee on Public and Religious Organizations has recommended the house to adopt the draft law on non-governmental organizations on July 6.

    A group of United Russia deputies led by Alexander Sidyakin presented the bill to the State Duma on June 29. The bill says that Russian non-governmental organizations receiving money or other assets from foreign states, foreign state bodies, international or foreign organizations and foreign citizens and engaged in political activity in Russia, in particular, in the interest of foreign sides, shall be described as ‘foreign agents’ and added to the special NGO register.

    If the bill is approved, such organizations must apply to the Justice Ministry for being added to the special register within 90 days. The failure to do that will entail administrative and criminal penalties.

    The bill may be endorsed before the end of this parliamentary session (July 13).

    Sidyakin told the house that the bill was based on foreign practices or even copied them by certain provisions.

    Foreign states annually assign up to $7 billion for the activity of non-governmental organizations in Russia, and the funding grew significantly in 2011, the year of the latest State Duma election, he said. The Golos organization alone gained over $2 million in British and U.S. funding, which was much more than in the previous years, he said.

    Another bill co-author, Nikonov said that the bill was “a mild form of self-defense of the Russian state.” If the bill is adopted, it will apply to only 1,000 out of 220,000 non-governmental organizations in the country. “That is 0.4% only,” he said.

    Committee on Public and Religious Organizations Chairman Yaroslav Nikonov fully supported the bill concept and even suggested broadening it by the second reading so that the activity of non-governmental organizations was verified for its compliance with national security and geopolitical interests of Russia.

    The parliamentary majority – United Russia – voiced its support to the bill.

    “The openness provided by this bill will play into the hands of those receiving grants and funding from foreign sources. They will be able to operate with the maximal transparency and declare their goals and tasks,” United Russia faction leader Andrei Vorobyov said.

    State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin has invited experts and interested sides to discuss the draft law on non-governmental organizations.

    “Naturally, the bill is subject to broad public debates,” he said in answer to the question whether the bill might be removed from the State Duma agenda and discussed publicly, as that was demanded by the Presidential Council for the Development of the Civil Society and Human Rights.

    “We invite experts and interested sides to the “Open Tribune” on Thursday. The bill will also be discussed at the State Duma,” Naryshkin said.

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  4. admin Post author | July 6, 2012

    Russia’s lower house of parliament approved on Friday in its first reading a controversial bill that would force non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded from abroad and engaged in political activity to declare themselves “foreign agents.”

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