Charity leaders plead distinction between ‘political’ and ‘public’ activity

Prominent Trustees and Patrons of charitable foundations ask the President to help to make a distinction between the concepts of ‘political’ and ‘public’ activity


A collective letter to President Vladimir Putin written by Egor Beroev, Natalya Vodyanova, Tatyana Drubich, Yevgeny Mironov, Yulia Peresild, Kseniya Rappoport, Vladimir Pozner, Avdotya Smirnova, Konstantin Khabensky and Chulpan Khamatova. They are asking that the adoption of the draft law submitted to the Duma by the Ministry of Justice concerning the definition of ‘political activity’ of NGOs not be permitted.

Artists, trustees and founders of charitable foundations have appealed to the President of the RF, Vladimir Putin, with the request that he recommend the deputies of the State Duma to revise the draft law from the Ministry of Justice to clarify the concept of ‘political activity’. The statement says that it is necessary to separate the concept of ‘political activity’ and ‘public activity’ and to refine the legislation so that an organisation could only be recognised as a ‘foreign agent’ if it truly acts in the interests and on behalf of a foreign state.

“We understand the desire of state leaders to prevent any external influence on the internal politics of the country. But, in our opinion, this reasonable idea is being implemented through actions that are not protecting us from external pressure but are destroying the developing public and charitable sector in the country. In our opinion, the suggestion that ‘political activity’ in the draft law includes any form of public activity and all possible forms of interaction between society and the state,” says the statement from the Trustees of charitable foundations.

They stress that if the draft law is to be accepted in its current form, socially-oriented NGOs, working together with the state in the interests of Russia and Russian citizens, would have to provide documents to be included in the register of organisations acting as ‘foreign agents’. “Depriving the public sector of opportunities to interact with state bodies to address urgent issues relating to health, social protection, culture, ecology and charity, means the state is deprived of a mechanism to identify social problems, a feedback mechanism”, the statement says.

The appeal to the President was signed by the founder of the ‘Naked heart’ foundation for children, Natalia Vodianova; the founder of the charitable foundation ‘I am!’, supporting children with special needs, Egor Beroev; Co-Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Charity Hospice Foundation ‘Vera’, Tatyana Drubich; the founder of the charitable foundation ‘Artist’, supporting artists, Evgeny Mironov; Trustee of the charitable foundation ‘Galchonok’ for children with organic lesions of the central nervous system, Yulia Peresild; Trustee of the charitable foundation ‘B.E.L.A. Butterfly Children’, Kseniya Rappoport; member of the of the Board of Trustees of the ‘Focus-Media’ foundation for social development and health care, Vladimir Pozner; President of the charitable foundation ‘Exit’, which to facilitates solutions to the problems of autism, Avdotya Smirnova; founder of the Konstantin Khabensky Charitable Foundation and founder of the charitable foundation ‘Gift of Life’, helping children with oncohematological and other serious diseases, Chulpan Khamatova.

The draft law from the Ministry of Justice clarifying the concept of ‘political activity’ was accepted by the State Duma in February 2016. Russian scientists and cultural figures, prominent human rights defenders and regional ombudsmen as well as the Presidential Council for Human Rights criticised the draft law. Ella Pamfilova, the former Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation finalised the amendments. There is a fear in the non-profit community that the amendments by the Ministry of Justice will hit charitable foundations. A petition from the charitable assembly ‘All together’, addressed to the State Duma, was signed by more than 5,500 people. The Civil Chamber of the RF will shortly be holding a ‘zero’ reading of the draft law.

Author: Grigory Ivanushkin


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