Thursday, December 18, 2014


Russia

Putin Signs NGO 'Foreign Agents' Law

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin
By RFE/RL
The Kremlin press service reports that President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a controversial bill that requires nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) which receive funding from abroad to register with the Justice Ministry as "foreign agents."  
 
The law, which was cleared by the upper house of parliament and the Federation Council earlier in July, tightens control on the foreign-funded NGOs by compelling them to file detailed quarterly financial reports on their actitivies to Russian authorities every quarter.
 
And it makes it possible for targeted NGOs to be subjected to regular and unannounced inspections.
 
Violations of the law are punishable by sizeable financial penalties or potential imprisonment.
 
The bill has caused huge concern among activists who fear it will be used to stigmatise NGOs critical of government activities or policies.

Law Criticized
 
Observers have noted that the term "foreign agent" is synonymous with espionage for many in Russia and other nations.
 
Yuri Dzhibladze, president of the Democracy Development and Human Rights Center, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that he considered the law "anticonstitutional."

"This is not merely a question of our convictions but also a legal strategy if you wish. I know that a great number of organizations are not going to sign statements that they are acting under somebody's orders," Dzhibladze said.

"The vote on the amendments to the civil and criminal codes has been postponed until the fall. These [amendments] envision sanctions ranging from an official warning to fines and suspension of [NGOs'] activities. We are going to fight these decisions in courts."
 
Other activists say the law is unclear. The law calls for NGOs that receive foreign funding and engage in "political activity" to register as "foreign agents" but does not spell out what constitutes political activity.
 
Mikhail Fedotov, chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Council, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that the law comes into force 120 days after its official publication.

"There are four months during which to get ready for the law to come into effect. Perhaps a lot of issues will become clearer by that time. Today, however, I am completely confused when it comes to the definition of 'political activities.' It will be very important to see how its legal implementation unfolds in practice," Fedotov said.

Critics have denounced the measure as part of a crackdown on civil liberties that has accompanied Putin's return for a third presidential term in May. 
 
This month, the U.S. State Department expressed "deep concern" about the NGO law but was rebuked by Russia for "gross interference." 
 
The legislation also has been condemned as unreasonable by the European Union.
With reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax 
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Drainsville from: U.K.
July 22, 2012 20:14
Absolutely proper and right. This is exactly the way the United States treated foreign nationals in the late seventies/ early eighties in so much as the Visa classification for non-embassy or military nationals residing in the country were given a visa that allowed for the same restrictions on commerce and persuasion, allowing for the regulation of visitors. With Russia's integration into the W.T.O. the need for such monitoring is now even more obvious that before, and will safe guard both sides. If in the U.K. the same system of monitoring had been implemented three decades ago we now would not be suffering from a defunct education system, mass immigration and the denudation of standards in product, systems language and culture.

by: Kafantaris from: USA
July 22, 2012 23:13
Putin has restricted access to information. This will not quench the thirst for freedom.
As long as Russians can read, see, and hear they will learn how others think and live in the world.
The steamroller of the information age has momentum now; there is no stopping it. Relentless efforts to do so merely add to the pent-up anger and frustration -- and Putin has yet to see it.
He can raid homes and offices; he can arrest Russians on bogus charges; he can torture them. But these measures only fan the flames of freedom.
Putin cannot extinguish the fires by killing the Russians in whose chest they are burning.
Nor will he find a shortage of Nathan Hales in Russia whose only regret is that they have but one life to give for freedom in their country.

by: Natural Fruit from: UK
July 25, 2012 07:19
Just for the clarification of those who think it is a good move. Political activity in Russia is anything concerning human rights. And human rights are inalienable from economic freedom. Good old Soviet Union is coming back. "Absolutely proper and right"?
In Response

by: Marko from: USA
July 25, 2012 10:38
I don't see the USSR coming back; in fact, events of the last year gave pretty much proved the opposite. The political system is more complex and multi-polar. As long as the protests were peaceful, they were allowed- something that certainly wouldn't have happened under say, Brezhnev. If Russia should allow foreigners to ultimately manage and control its politics in the name of some kind of absolute globalist freedom, should the West? We have these laws too, and I approve of them.I don't want the Chinese picking our leaders, and most Russians are perfectly right to not want Americans picking theirs. They didn't have a good experience with that with Yeltsin...

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