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Russia

New Russian Bill Aims To Brand NGOs As 'Foreign Agents'

"This law has a despicable goal, which is to make it possible to say on television, 'Look, they are admitting themselves that they are agents of foreign governments,'" says veteran rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva.
"This law has a despicable goal, which is to make it possible to say on television, 'Look, they are admitting themselves that they are agents of foreign governments,'" says veteran rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva.

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Nongovernmental organizations operating in Russia on grants from abroad could soon be officially branded as "foreign agents."

Under a new bill submitted to the State Duma by deputies from the ruling United Russia party, the requirement would apply to foreign-funded NGOs deemed to be engaged in political activities.

"I've prepared a draft law on introducing amendments to the NGO law. We'll submit it soon," Aleksandr Sidyakin, one of the bill's authors, wrote on Twitter. "Prepare your cash, foreign agents! :)"

Organizations that fail to re-register within 90 days after the law comes into force would be shut down for a period of six months.

If the bill is signed into law, organizations will additionally have to report to authorities every six months with detailed information about their funding.

Those who file incomplete reports face fines of up to 1 million rubles ($30,240). Violations of the new measures would be punishable by prison terms of up to four years.

Sparked Outrage

Sidyakin says the bill will force many NGOs to "stop conspiring" and "expose the real nature of their activities."

"We want civil society, our citizens, to know which NGOs are the products of civil society in Russia and which NGOs are financed from abroad," Sidyakin says.

The bill has sparked outrage among rights activists, who say nongovernmental groups already provide detailed information about their financing under the existing NGO law.

They accuse the Kremlin of seeking to discredit civil groups as it scrambles to contain an unprecedented wave of protests against Vladimir Putin's 12-year rule.

United Russia deputies, including Sidyakin, are behind another controversial new law that dramatically raises fines on protesters.
We will have a law that will allow people to discredit any organization that is not United Russia or that displeases the authorities.

"This law has a despicable goal, which is to make it possible to say on television, 'Look, they are admitting themselves that they are agents of foreign governments,'" says veteran rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva, head of the foreign-funded Moscow Helsinki Group. "And part of our population will naively believe that human rights campaigners are enemies who promote the interests of nations hostile to Russia."

Alekseyeva says many organizations, including hers, must rely on foreign grants because funding is unavailable in Russia.

She says the proposed amendments show the Kremlin has no interest in civil groups that don't directly promote the president and his government. Alekseyeva added that she would ask Putin to veto the proposal.

Vague Wording

Advocates of the new bill stress that the United States has similar legislation that also requires foreign-funded groups to register as "foreign agents."

Critics, however, point to the vague wording of the Russian proposal, which they fear could be distorted to justify further crackdowns on civil and rights groups.

The bill would also expand the Justice Ministry's authority to conduct inspections on NGOs organizations suspected of extremism.

"We will have a law that will allow people to discredit any organization that is not United Russia or that displeases the authorities," says political analyst Mark Urnov. "This is done clumsily. It's not even clear how much money organizations must receive and in which form."

In recent months, a number of officials have accused some NGOs, particularly groups involved in election monitoring, of acting on behalf of Western governments.

Some observers have also suggested that the new proposal is in retaliation for a U.S. Senate panel's approval of a bill that would penalize Russian officials for human rights abuses.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week passed the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, named after the Russian anticorruption lawyer whose 2009 death in pretrial detention drew international condemnation.

Russia has warned of "extremely negative" consequences if U.S. lawmakers approve the Magnitsky bill.

Written by Claire Bigg in Prague, based on reporting by Natalya Dzhanpoladova in Moscow
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by: vn from: Belgrade
July 03, 2012 09:34
Bravo for Russia! Yes, non-native NGOs are a cradle for international terrorist activities via financial crimes, they are mostly political organizations and they are murderers developing gas chambers. If pleading they are not foreign agents may they leave to the foreign currency countries of origin.

by: Marko from: USA
July 03, 2012 11:30
Had predicted this was coming a while back.The US, Western Europe, etc-- i.e. any self -respecting nation that cares about its sovereignty has laws of this type. Foreign money is foreign money, and those who receive it serve, in the hope of receiving more largesse, the ends of those who fund them. The fact that Russia didn't have such laws was a lingering legacy of the disastrous semi-colonial period of Western domination called the 1990s. Hard to argue with this. I, for one, don't want Hu Jintao handing out cash to politicians over here... Putin and company have the right to feel similarly about Obama.

by: Sey from: World
July 03, 2012 16:41
But they are all foreign agents. Willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly, all NGOs and their members work for someone's political or economic interests.

If we consider every form of passive or active collaboration with the interests of someone's who's not from your country, does not represent your country, and works against the government of your country (whether its right or wrong, legal or illegal)... then "Treason" falls under every single NGO regardless of the work they do

by: Danilo from: Belgrade
July 03, 2012 19:01
I was a student in Belgrade when demonstrations against Milosevic in Serbia happened and I was at the forefront of these events.

Today, after more than a decade I feel stupid because I was naive and did not realize that AMERICAN FINANCED NGOs MADE A COUP IN SERBIA!

Everything was presented as a fight for human rights, but American intelligence agencies worked for years to destabilize former Yugoslavia and provoke as many conflicts as possible.

I am now sure that they are doing the same in Russia, Chechenya, Georgia, and all other countries that were their enemies during the Cold War. Americans TOTALLY LIVE IN COLD WAR and will not stop inciting trouble in any country that is allied with China or Russia (in particular because of their nuclear arsenal).

All this story about Human Rights is a fake. Look for a documentary on YouTube where a CIA agent openly says that HUMAN RIGHTS ARE TOOL CIA's HANDS!

I wholeheartedly support Putin to divide and economically ruin the US. The only way is to destroy the US from within. RT is very important in that goal. If Putin could attract Israel on his side, our Jewish friends will destroy the evil empire called the US.

by: Ivan from: Belgrade
July 03, 2012 23:37
Good job Russia. She is no foreign agent. She is an FSB agent from Moscow.

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