Public Chamber approves amendments to Foreign Agents Act
The compulsory information that foreign NGO units in Russia need to provide is being extended, while the time limit to provide that information to the registry for branch and representative offices is being shortened.
The Civil Chamber of the Russian Federation has held the “noughth” reading of the draft legislation to improve the legal regulation of the work of Russian branches of foreign NGOs.
The amendments are essentially technical in nature. The changes to the bill allow the Ministry to receive a sufficiently full picture of the planned activities of Russian representative offices of foreign NGOs, according to Elena Sutormina, member of the Civil Chamber of the Russian Federation (CCRF). From her point of view, this will allow them to prevent possibly unlawful and unconstitutional activities.
The Ministry of Justice’s amendments, in part, supplement the list of grounds for refusal to include branches of foreign NGOs on the registry of branches and representatives of foreign organisations. If the changes are accepted, then the leaders of these organisations will be obliged to provide additional information about themselves: not only their names, the country of registration of their head office, and the scope of their planned activities, but also their aims, undertakings, and means of implementation in Russia. Moreover, the document permits the removal of such an organisation from the registry should an NGO decide to stop working in its country of origin.
The CCRF considers it unavoidable to broaden the list of grounds for the exclusion of Russian branches of foreign NGOs from the register. According to experts, it is necessary to clarify the provisions relating to excluding organisations carrying out activities which contravene Russian legislation.
The Bill was previously introduced in the Russian State Duma. The results of the ˜nought” reading of the document will be presented to members of the CCRF for a vote. After this, the recommendations of the members of this advisory body will be shared with the relevant state structures.