Proposed Law Would Effectively Destroy Russia’s NGO Sector
Staunton, November 11 – A new bill in
the Duma (sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/1052523-7) would significantly broaden the basis for declaring
a Russian NGO a foreign agent, increase the likelihood and frequency of
government raids and audits, and require NGOs to get advance agreement from the
authorities about their programs and plans.
adopted and implemented, Memorial legal specialist Tatyana Glushkova says, the
measure would “open the gates of hell” as far as Russian NGOs are concerned,
force many to close and force all others to geld themselves or accept being
gelded by the powers that be (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/198577).
Russian NGO that received any funding, no matter how small, from any source
abroad could be labelled a foreign agent, the new measure allows. It even gives
the government the power to label an NGO with that limiting term if one or more
of its members participate in a meeting organized by what Moscow calls “an undesirable
a Russian NGO which refuses to take any money from foreign sources could nonetheless
be labelled a foreign agent and subject to all the limitations and restrictions
groups now classified that way because they receive significant funding from
abroad if it simply attended a meeting hosted by a group Moscow doesn’t approve
the most frightening aspect of the new law is the introduction of a requirement
that NGOs must seek the approval of the Russian government in advance for any
program or plan. If such approval isn’t forthcoming and they go ahead anyway,
such NGOs could be closed by the Russian courts.
is truly a draconian step backward, and it is entirely possible that the
Kremlin will come out against it to prove its bona fides to those it believes it
can influence or that the law will be applied in a highly selective manner. But
even if either of those things proves to be true, it is a measure of the
dangerous direction of Putin’s policies in this sector.