Getting control of NGO finances

website has been set up on the internet which seeks signatures on a petition
asking for ‘the foreign financing of NGOs in the Russian Federation (RF) to be
brought under control’.  The initiators
are proposing that a law be passed under which ‘the staff of organisations that
receive money via foreign funds and agencies 
must undergo compulsory registration with the ministry of justice and
the taxation authorities’. Furthermore all material published by such
organisations without regard to the place of publication (whether on their own
website or in media which they do not own) must be identified as such. The
initiators add that information anyone in receipt of foreign funding and the
sources of such income must be accessible to any citizen and published on the
ministry of justice website. Over 14,000 people have signed the petition. Daria
Miloslavskaya, member of the public chamber and director of the RF branch of
the International Centre for Non-commercial Law, told an ASI correspondent that
the promoters of the petition were ignorant of both Russian and American
legislation. She pointed out that the American law dealing with the financing
of NGOs to which they refer was enacted for a different purpose. The 1938
American legislation sought to protect citizens against being influenced by
fascist ideology with appropriate publications having to contain a statement to
the effect that they had been ‘paid for by Germany’. Ms Miloslavskaya stressed
that this law did not relate to NGOs nor did it require these to be registered.


went on to point out that other provisions concerning accountability and
transparency of NGOs duplicated existing Russian legislation. For example
domestic legislation already obliged all NGOs to publish their accounts on the
internet and on the ministry of justice’s website. These accounts contain full
details of where their finances came from.


Miloslavskaya emphasised that it would be out of the question for NGO staff to
be required by law to account for their income. ‘Ordinary citizens must not be
forced to declare how their income is financed. They are paid for doing their
work. How their pay is financed is their employer’s concern’, she said.


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