Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Crackdown On NGOs In Russia

In early March, Russian prosecutors launched spot inspections of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) across the country. Hundreds of groups have already been targeted, from human rights NGOs to environmental groups to health-care associations. Formally, prosecutors are checking compliance with a new law forcing organizations that receive foreign funding and are deemed to engage in "political activity" to register as "foreign agents" -- a derogatory term that critics say aims to stigmatize NGOs. Russian authorities say the legislation, which entered into force in November 2012, aims at increasing the transparency and accountability of NGOs. But the audits have drawn international condemnation and raised fears of an unprecedented crackdown on civil society. The number of NGOs subjected to such inspections is difficult to assess due to the absence of an official registry. Most are still waiting for the inspection findings. RFE/RL is closely monitoring developments and will regularly update this chart and map.

View Russian NGOS Checklist in a larger map

Also see maps zooming in on Moscow and St. Petersburg


Noncompliance with the law on "foreign agents" carries the following penalties:
-- a fine of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,300) or amounting to the salary or other income received over a period of up to two years, or
-- compulsory labor of up to 480 hours, or
-- correctional labor of up to two years, or
-- a prison term of up to two years

No criminal case has been opened so far.

Organizations can be fined up to 500,000 rubles ($15,500) if a court finds them guilty of failing to register as "foreign agents." Their directors face fines of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,300).

Golos  Association of NGOs in Defense of Voters' Rights (Moscow)

The group was fined 300,000 rubles for failing to register as a "foreign agent." Golos director Lilia Shibanova was also personally fined 100,000 rubles ($3,100). The Justice Ministry said the group's advocacy for the adoption of a unified Electoral Code to raise transparency in elections amounted to "political activity." It also claimed that Golos received foreign funding in the form of the 2012 Sakharov Freedom Award from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Golos immediately returned the prize money. Its appeal of the ruling was denied on June 14, and on June 25 the group was suspended for six months by the Justice Ministry.

Golos Regional Public Association in Defense of Democratic Rights and Freedoms (Moscow)

The group, a member of the Golos Association, was fined 300,000 rubles. Its director Roman Udot was not charged. The group's work on promoting a unified Electoral Code together with the Golos Association was recognized as "political activity."

Kostroma Center for the Support of Public Initiatives (Kostroma)

Fined 300,000 rubles on May 29. Director Aleksandr Zamoryanov was fined 100,000 rubles. Prosecutors say the group had to register as a "foreign agent" before holding a roundtable on U.S.-Russian relations attended by a U.S. Embassy representative.

Antidiscrimination Center Memorial (St. Petersburg)

Local prosecutors opened an administrative case on April 30 on the grounds that the center presented a report detailing police abuse against Roma, migrants, and civil activists to the United Nations Committee Against Torture. Court hearings are pending.

LGBT film festival Side by Side (St. Petersburg)

On June 6, Side by Side was fined a total of 500,000 rubles ($15,500) for publishing a brochure titled "The International LGBT Movement: from Local Practices to Global Politics" and participating in a campaign against a controversial bill banning "homosexual propaganda." The campaign was conducted before the law on "foreign agents" came into force. An administrative case against the festival's president is ongoing and may also result in a fine.

LGBT organization Coming Out (St. Petersburg)

The gay-rights advocacy group was fined 500,000 rubles for receiving funding from the Consulate of the Netherlands and the Embassy of Norway and engaging in "political activity." During the trial, a group of antigay activists was allowed to attend the hearings and applauded each time the judges rejected the defense's motions. The group says it will appeal.

Center for Civic Analysis and Independent Research (GRANI) (Perm)

Prosecutors accuse the group of seeking to influence public opinion on state policies, including by drafting proposals to amend legislation governing NGOs and participating in roundtables on political issues. On April 22, the group was handed a notice of violations and ordered to register as "foreign agent." The center refused to implement the order, prompting prosecutors to refer the case to court. Court hearings are pending.

The following organizations have been asked to "eliminate violations" -- in other words, to register as "foreign agents" within a month.

Yaroslavl regional Hunters and Fishermen Society (Yaroslavl)

Warning dated April 16. The authorities found elements of "political activity" in the group's statute.

Baikal Environmental Wave (Irkutsk)

The environmental organization has received a notice dated April 23 that mentions the group's "active advocacy" on environmental issues.

Center For Social Policy and Gender Studies (Saratov)

The notice, dated April 24, says the center's events and publications seek to influence public opinion and therefore amount to "political activity."

Information and Human Rights Center (Yekaterinburg)

The group received a notice dated April 26 describing its awareness-raising activities as "political." The center, in particular, conducted a roundtable last year on the rights of conscripts and servicemen, and issued a set of recommendation to the Defense Ministry.

Human Rights Center Memorial (Moscow)

The notice, dated April 29says some of the objectives listed in the center's statute amount to "political activity." A Moscow court has rejected the group's appeal.

Center for the Support of Democratic Youth Initiatives/Youth Memorial (Perm)

The notice, dated April 29, says the center receives funding from organizations in the United States and Germany. The group has been active in monitoring rights violations in the military and promoting the alternative civil service.

Women of the Don (Novocherkassk)

According to the notice, dated April 29, the organization carried out activities "aimed at shaping public opinion and influencing decision-making" and "expressed negative attitudes regarding the activities of state authorities." The group has advocated prison and police reforms.

Agora Interregional Human Rights Association (Kazan)

The notice, dated April 30, claims the group engages in "political activity" by offering legal assistance to political activists. Agora says it receives foreign funding but denies having a political agenda.

Panorama information and research center (Moscow)

The think tank has received a notice dated May 6. According to prosecutors, the center is a "foreign agent" since it uses foreign funds to conduct research on political processes in Russia.

Lawyers for Constitutional Rights and Freedoms JURIX (Moscow)

The notice, dated May 7, says the organization is active in the field of "law and public policy." Its lawyers actively opposed the adoption of a ban on "homosexual propaganda" in St. Petersburg.

Public Verdict Foundation (Moscow)

The foundation was informed on May 14 that almost all its activities are "political" and was ordered to register as "foreign agent." Public Verdict helps people seek legal redress for police abuse.

Independent Council of Legal Expertise (NEPS) (Moscow)

Although the organization describes itself as "apolitical," it has been asked to register as a "foreign agent."

Moscow School of Political Studies (Moscow)

The school received a notice dated May 29. According to prosecutors, it received hundreds of thousands of dollars from abroad, including from the U.S.-based Open Society Foundations.

Perm Civic Chamber (Perm)
Perm Regional Human Rights Center (Perm)

The two NGOs were instructed to register as "foreign agents" in April. The exact dates of the notices are unclear. On May 20, the two groups published a joint statement with the Perm Memorial and GRANI stating their refusal to register as "foreign agents."

These organizations were formally warned of the need to register as "foreign agents" if they plan to engage in "political activity" and receive foreign funding in the future.

Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia, Kostroma branch (Kostroma)

The warning, dated April 16, says some of the provision in the group's statute related to "political activity." The committee combats rights abuses in the army.

Democratic Center (Voronezh)

Warning dated April 22. The group took part in election monitoring in December 2011.

Volgograd Center for NGO Support (Volgograd)

The center was warned on April 22 over a project funded by the NATO information bureau that advised local political parties and civil society groups on international relations and security.

Interregional Committee Against Torture (Nizhny Novgorod)

The warning, dated April 22, says the group took part in events "that may be regarded as political activity."

Community Foundation Kaliningrad (Kaliningrad)

Warning dated April 23.

Man and Law (Yoshkar-Ola)

Warning dated April 24. The authorities found elements of "political activity" in the group's statute, including a provision stating that its staff may take part in demonstrations and rallies.

Press Development Institute-Siberia (Novosibirsk)

The warning, dated April 24, finds fault with one of the provisions in the group's statute: "assistance to civil society development in Russia and strengthening democratic principles in the life of Russian society." The group has lodged an appeal.

Assistance to Cystic Fibrosis Patients (Istra, Moscow region)

According to the warning, dated April 24, the group could potentially engage in "political activity" while lobbying for the rights of cystic fibrosis patients with the authorities. The prosecutor's office revoked the warning on April 30.

Russian Socio-Ecological Union, Amur branch (Blagoveshchensk)

The warning, dated April 24, says some provisions in the group's statute relate to "political activity."

Memorial, Ryazan branch (Ryazan)

Warning dated April 24.

Amur Environmental Club Ulukitkan (Blagoveshchensk)

According to the warning, dated April 24, the group's statute says it may "participate in decision-making by state authorities." In 2001, the organization held a foreign-funded journalism contest to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear accident. The group has lodged an appeal.

Golos-Siberia Foundation (Novosibirsk)

The warning, dated April 24, says the group received funding in 2012 from the Golos Foundation for Support of Democracy, which itself receives foreign financing.

Golos-Urals Foundation (Zlatoust)

Warning dated April 25.

Citizens Watch (St. Petersburg)

Warning dated April 25. Prosecutors say some of the provisions in the group's statute relate to "political activity" and says it holds "public events" and "publishes material in the media."

Urals Democratic Foundation (Chelyabinsk)

Warning dated April 25.

Urals Human Rights Group (Chelyabinsk)

Warning dated April 29.

Transparency International Russia (Moscow)

The warning, dated April 26, says the organization seeks to shape public opinion on state policies, particularly on law enforcement and the legislative process.

Center for Independent Sociological Research (St. Petersburg)

Warning dated April 26.

Center for Independent Social Research and Education (Irkutsk)

Warning dated April 26.

Komi Human Rights Commission Memorial (Syktyvkar)

Warning dated April 27. Prosecutors claim organization members participated in "public and political actions, including protest actions" aimed at influencing decision-making.

Kirov regional Society of Hunters and Fishermen (Kirov)

Warning dated April 29.

Muraviovka Park For Sustainable Land Use (Blagoveshchensk)

According to the warning, dated April 30, some of the provisions in the group's statute relate to "political activity." The group, which defends and studies birds, receives funding from the International Crane Foundation.

Nature and Youth (Murmansk)

Warning dated April 30.

Center for Democracy Development and Human Rights (Moscow)

Warning dated May 8.

Journalism Advancement and Support Center (Moscow)

Warning dated May 8. Prosecutors say some of the center's publications aim at influencing public opinion about government policies and may therefore relate to "political activity."

Levada Center (Moscow)

According to the warning, dated May 15, the independent polling center seeks to influence public opinion on major political process and its activities are therefore not sociological but "political."

Foundation for Assistance to Public Opinion Research (Moscow)

Warning received in May. The foundation is a subsidiary of top polling agency the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research (VTsIOM).

Internal Standard Foundation (Ufa)

Warning received in May. The group allegedly received funding from the European Commission and the U.S. Embassy for projects on NGOs and democracy.

Saami Public Organization of Saamis of the Murmansk Region (Murmansk)

Warning received in June. The organization defends the culture and language of the ethnic Saami people, and receives grants from Scandinavian foundations. Prosecutors say some of the provisions in its statute relate to "political activity."
Prosecutors say they have warned another Saami NGO in the Murmansk region. No details are currently available.

For Nature (Chelyabinsk)

Green House (Khabarovsk)

Siberian Environmental Center (Novosibirsk)

SPOK (Petrozavodsk)

Kola Environmental Center (Murmansk)

Center for Wildlife Defense (Murmansk)

Phoenix Foundation (Vladivostok)

School of Soul Ecology Tengri (Gorno-Altaisk)

Protected Natural Areas Association of the Altai Republic (Gorno-Altaisk)

Eige environmental education center (Yakutsk)