Duma passes law on compulsory classification of NGOs as ‘foreign agents’
The State Duma approves the law on compulsory inclusion of NGOs on a “foreign agents” register
Russia’s State Parliament has approved the law following its second and third readings under which the country’s Justice Ministry will be given the power to include NGOs on a list of “foreign agents”. The Russian Federation’s Council can sign off the law at its next meeting on 28 May.
Only one amendment was introduced during first reading, granting the Justice Ministry authority to suspend the activities of NGOs which refuse to register as “agents”. A Justice Ministry’s decision to include an organisation on the “foreign agents” register could be challenged in the courts. The law also extends the scope of random NGO inspections
The law, sponsored by Andrey Lugovoi, was previously criticised by the Standing Committee on NGOs within the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights. The Council believes that the procedure for classifying NGOs as “foreign agents” should be a step-by-step process in order to avoid errors and abuses by Government agencies.
The Association “Agora” recently stated that a second wave of Public Prosecutor inspections of NGOs has already begun even though the “Lugovoi law” had yet to be formally signed off. Human rights activists have reported that new inspections of at least 12 NGOs from Moscow, St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Stavropol district, Tartastan and the Chechnyian Republic are being carried out.
Author: Georgy Ivanushkin