First meeting of Presidential group on NGOs
First meeting takes place of the Presidential Working Group on NGOs
The Working Group concentrated in the main on issues related to State support for socially- orientated non-profit organisations and the bestowing of “enhanced benefits” on NGOs.
According to TASS, at the first meeting of the Group tasked with developing proposals for further regulation of the work of socially-orientated NGOs, Vyacheslav Volodin, First Deputy Head of the Federation’s Presidential Office, emphasised the need to create the best possible conditions in which such NGOs can operate, adding that “Today one can say that more and more people in Russia are prepared to give up their time to help others and involve themselves in the work of socially-orientated NGOs”.
There are 49 Working Group members including Mikhail Fedotov, Chair of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, Ella Pamfilova, Human Rights Commissioner, together with Alexander Brechalov and Elena Topoleva, Secretary and member of the Public Chamber respectively.
The Group faces several tasks, in particular developing the NGO sector at area level and issues related to State support for NGOs operating in regions across Russia; creating the conditions to facilitate the transfer of some State functions to NGOs, as well as potential changes to NGO legislation.
At their first meeting, the Group discussed proposals to establish a single All-Russian NGO register, as well as simplifying the registration process and bestowing a special category of “enhanced benefits” on NGOs, said Elena Topoleva. Another important theme that came up during discussions was the NGOs entry into the social services market. “Legislation now makes provision for this to happen, but it is true to say that progress thus far has been very slow, mainly given the many barriers that lie in the way, but also because NGOs themselves are still not quite ready to take this step”, Topoleva added.
Topoleva explained that the Group’s main objective now was to carry out Vladimir Putin’s instructions, namely to assess the practical application of legislation governing the work of NGOs and to make recommendations for further regulation of socially-orientated NGO activities, as well as looking at the activities of other NGOs that are committed to achieving socially useful objectives and benefits.
“Today in Russia, we have more and more highly motivated altruistic people coming forward in their desire to help others, which is an area where NGOs can play a part. For this to happen, it is extremely important to create the proper environment for NGOs in support of their work. It is clear that helping the public in their wish to take part in socially useful activities rather than NGOs is an end in itself. Therefore the best way of doing this is through NGOs, although NGOs themselves have to help”, says Topoleva.
At the meeting, Vyacheslav Volodin confirmed that the issue surrounding the clarification of the term “political activity” under the “foreign agents” law will be decided by the end of the year. Earlier, the Russian President announced that proposed amendments to NGO legislation would be drawn up during the next three months.
Author: Georgy Ivanushkin