Amendments prepared to define ‘political activities’ in the ‘foreign agents’ law
The Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights is preparing to submit its proposals for improvements to the current legislation concerning non-profit organisations.
The Chairman of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, Mikhail Fedotov, has suggested that it is essential to formulate and clarify the definition of “political activities” within the legislation “on foreign agents” in strict accordance with the position taken on the issue by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, RIA Novosti news agency reports. According to the head of state, the law “on foreign agents” is necessary in order to ensure that foreign governments do not use Russian NGOs to interfere in the internal political affairs of the Russian Federation.
The key words in this new version should include terms such as “foreign country”, “intervention” and “internal affairs”, emphasised Fedotov. The Chairman of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights believes that these three components in particular must be used for the clarification of the meaning of the concept of “political activity”, with a bill developed by the Ministry of Justice being used as the basis for this. But Fedotov also pointed out that this document will have to be significantly altered. According to him, the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights will be submitting their proposals immediately after the February vacation period.
The previous bill developed by the Ministry of Justice was submitted to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. According to the approach of the Ministry on this issue in wishing to ensure that the activities of NGOs are recognised as “political”, defined objectives, spheres and forms of NGO activity must match the requirements of the definition. Those such as Russian scientists and cultural figures, as well as several well-known human rights activists and regional ombudsmen have gathered to publically criticise the bill. In addition, Ella Pamfilova, High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, has also requested that further amendments be made to the bill.
AUTHOR: Georgiy Ivanushkin