Challenges facing NGOs in Russia

Extracts from an article in Moscow Times, by Vladimir
Ryzhkov, on 21 May:

“Operation Total Eradication of NGOs”

many initially thought that the government’s repressive new law aimed
at nongovernmental organizations and the so-called “Dima
Yakovlev” law, which bans U.S. citizens from adopting Russian
orphans, represented a surgical attack against a few undesirable
organizations, it has now become clear that the authorities are intent
on completely eradicating all remnants of civil society.

The Kremlin’s
goal is to completely block foreign funding of all NGOs and to
shut down those that resist the ban or the requirement to label
themselves as “foreign agents.” Meanwhile, it has stepped up funding
of Kremlin-friendly NGOs by allocating grants through the Public
Chamber and money through regional budgets to create a wide
network of NGOs that are completely dependent on the authorities
for their existence. Since Russian businesses do not fund NGOs unless they
have been directed or given approval to do so by the authorities,
independent NGOs will disappear altogether, leaving only those that are loyal
to the authorities. Thus, Kremlin-friendly NGOs will be added to the
Kremlin’s vertical-power arsenal, along with the courts,
the siloviki, mainstream media and the State Duma.

A huge
special operation involving the Kremlin, State Duma, Prosecutor General’s
Office, Justice Ministry and other government agencies is underway
to eliminate all independent NGOs.

A huge
special operation involving the siloviki is underway to eliminate all
independent NGOs.

The first
blow was strategically directed against the most powerful
and influential NGOs that have been irritating the Kremlin
for years with their investigations that reveal gross abuses
of power, corruption and violations of human rights. ….

society is beginning to realize the scale of the unfolding
disaster. The Presidential Council on Human Rights has appealed
to Putin to repeal the law or to urgently introduce
mitigating amendments to it.

Read more:

Published by The Moscow Times

another comment:

‘Political’ NGOs”

29 April
2013 | Issue 5119

from article by Victor Davidoff in Moscow Times

To date,
256 NGOs in 55 regions have been checked, according to the Agora
human rights association. In some cities, like Omsk, organizational checks
have given way to interrogation of their employees. The police
visited civic activists at home, asking questions about their involvement
in oppositional activities and their foreign friends.
In Krasnodar, the FSB arrested the director of the grant
program of the Southern Regional NGO Resource Center, Professor Mikhail
Savva. Although officially he is charged with embezzlement of grant funds
received from the local government, the involvement of the FSB
indicates the arrest’s political underpinning. During the search
of Savva’s home, all photographs taken abroad were confiscated, as were
his daughter’s foreign language textbooks.

The prosecutors’
broad understanding of “political activity” essentially equates
any civic activity with the battle for power. Igor Sazhin, the chairman
of the Memorial in Komi, discussed this issue with representatives
of the local prosecutor’s office and came to a conclusion that
“our prosecutors consider any contact with the authorities to be
‘politics,'” as he wrote on the LiveJournal blog. “Our charter contains
the phrase ‘assisting the authorities’ and the prosecutors call
that ‘politics.'”

The climax
of this absurd drama was a demand to the Moscow Organization
of Aid to Patients with Cystic Fibrosis that it register as foreign agents
sen. As the warning from the prosecutor’s office makes clear,
the organization’s goals of “submitting suggestions
to government agencies” is considered political activity.

Read more:


The Moscow Times



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