Justice Ministry did not identify political activity by AIDS NGOs
Initial results of the mass unscheduled check by the Russian Federation Justice Ministry on AIDS NGOs in receipt of foreign funding did not reveal any “political activity”. Kommersant has seen the first findings of the checks, carried out at the request of the Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko. The inspections will be completed by the end of September.
The reports seen by Kommersant show that even though the NGOs receive foreign funding, they will not be classified as “foreign agents” because they are not engaged in political activities. For example, the Ministry established that the social development and health care foundation “FOCUS-MEDIA” receive funds from the European Commission and the UN Fund for Democracy, but had not been found to have conducted any political activities in the period covered by the inspection. The Director of the not-for-profit organisation Rehabilitation Centre for Drug Dependent Persons “Pokolenie”, Natalia Ustyuzhanina, said that the inspection was conducted carefully and properly.
The Ministry is concerned about damage to its image, if it is found to be exerting excessive pressure on NGOs helping severely ill people, according to lawyer and legal analyst Ramil Akhmetgaliev of the Agora Association. He drew a parallel with the NGO Golos, which was defined as a “foreign agent” – if it is thought to be irritating to the state as a whole, then these NGOs can only annoy certain government authorities. He found it hard to understand the thinking of the inspectors, who had even managed to find environmental NGOs “political”.
The checks on AIDS NGOs could be connected with the refusal of the Russian authorities to accept help from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, according to Anna Sarang, President of the A Rylkov Fund for the Protection of Health and Social Justice. After the government refused any more grants, the Global Fund decided to transfer the fund to a consortium of NGOs, which joined together for this purpose. Perhaps the results of the inspections show that the authorities have decided not to interfere in this process, commented Kommersant.
Author: Georgy Ivanushkin