Duma to restrict foreign funding of NGOs?
Duma Committee on Public and Religious Organisations discussed this topic on 2
February 2012. Since last December the Committee is headed by the Liberal Democratic
Party’s Alexei Ostrovsky, who permitted heads of other key Duma committees and
members of the public to attend the debate.
of the public who were there have said that they did not get the impression
that Duma members intend to introduce restrictions on foreign funding of all
types of NGOs. Speakers reminded participants that many socially important
programmes and projects receive grants from foreign sources. However, there was
a proposal to legislate to ban all foreign funding of political activity and to
restrict lobbying activities, according to Darya Miloslavskaya, a member of the
Public Chamber and Director of the Russian branch Alliance of the International
Center for the Not-for-Profit Law. So probably further discussion will focus on
three aspects of the law: the activities of foreign NGOs on Russian territory,
accounting procedures for NGOs in receipt of foreign funding for their
activities, the potential NGOs have to influence Russian policies, including lobbying
and the definition of the term “political activity” as concerns NGOs, said law
professor Elena Abrosimova of Moscow State University.
amendments to the law have not yet been proposed – the meeting discussed the
general approach of the various organisations and the authorities. It was
agreed that a federal law should be drafted and adopted to regulate lobbying,
and also one to define what is meant by “political activity”.
is likely that these ideas will be discussed by a working group involving the
Ministry of Justice, among others. Participants also felt that the Duma Committee
should set up separate expert councils on religious organisations, public and
socially oriented NGOs, and political parties. A number of federal media outlets with links
to the head of the Ministry of Justice’s Department for NGO matters, Vladimir
Titov, reported that the ministry is planning to expand its scope to carry out
unannounced checks of NGOs. But Abrosimova and Miloslavskaya expressed doubts
that this has been stated, and thought that what was under discussion was surprise
checks on the membership of election commissions, for which the ministry has already
acquired the authority.