Charities urge rejection of amendments to ‘foreign agents’ law
Charities urge the rejection of amendments to the ‘foreign agents’ law
The charity collective ‘All Together’ has declared that the Ministry of Justice’s bill clarifying the concept of ‘political activities’ will give a political hue to all public activities carried out by NGOs and set Russia back in global charitable rankings.
Together with the ‘foreign agents’ law’s extremely broad description of ‘foreign funding’, the amendments developed by the Ministry of Justice make receiving ‘foreign agent’ status practically inevitable for all members of the charity collective ‘All Together’, states the petition on the website Change.org.
“This will lead to a significant fall in the quality and scope of our assistance. Raised accounting and reporting requirements divert considerable resources from our already meagre budgets, and the frightening ‘foreign agent’ status alienates donors and pushes Russia down the World Giving Index”, charities claim.
The Ministry of Justice’s bill clarifying the meaning of ‘political activities’ was recently introduced in the State Duma. It has been criticised by Russian scholars and cultural figures, a number of famous human rights activists and regional ombudsmen. The Russian Human Rights Commissioner Ella Pamfilova called for the amendment to be improved. The Presidential Council on Human Rights has submitted its own proposals to clarify the concept of ‘political activities’. The non-profit community fears that the Ministry of Justice’s amendment will hurt charities.
If the amendments are adopted in their present form, charities’ activities will be hampered, and in many cases made impossible, according to ‘All Together’’s petition, addressed to the Duma Chairman Sergei Naryshkin. Foundations have urged the Duma not to accept these amendments and to return to dialogue between the authorities and NGOs.
“We consider it necessary, firstly, to narrow the definition of ‘political activity’, secondly, to establish an absolute or relative threshold for the acquisition of ‘agent’ status, and thirdly, to remove the obligation for organisations to apply on their own initiative to be included in the register and the penalties for failing to do so”, states the petition, which is signed by the heads of 35 charities.
Signatures to the petition, which currently stand at over 3000, are still being collected.
Author: Georgii Ivanushkin