Presidentlal Council’s working group to defend rights of NGOs

In the event that their rights are
constricted the NGOs  may appeal to the
presidential council’s working group



working group for the development of NGOs has had its first meeting after
recomposition due to rotation of the membership of the presidential council for
the development of civil society and human rights, its parent body, and has
settled its future work programme. The group will include special advisers some
of whom have served as members in the past.



taking part include the chair of the council, Michail Fedotov, the director of
the department for innovative development of the federal ministry of economic
development, Artem Shadrin, and a number of leading lawyers from the voluntary
sector. Elena Topoleva said that the meeting had taken the decision to champion
NGOs’ rights. This means that where an NGO thinks that the authorities are
interfering unlawfully with their activities or violating their rights in some
way, it is at liberty to appeal to the working group…(i.e. to the chair of
the working group, Vlada  Muraveva –
Ms Topoleva said that at the moment ‘NGOs have no-one to complain to’ since
there are no bodies that deal with these cases. There is also talk both amongst
ordinary Russians and officials to the effect that access to social services
should be secured for NGOs. There have been instances where organisations that
are able to provide certain services as well as governmental organisations can,
have not been allowed to do so.



second aim of the working group will be to monitor the implementation of the
foreign agents law as applied in practice. ‘We will be asking NGOs to send in a
note of their views as to how the coming into force of that law influences
their operational potential and thus affects their activities’, said Ms
Topoleva. The members of the working group will be  preparing amendments to that law. ‘There is a
view that it should not be amended and that it would be harmful to do so. But
others think that it should be amended. How urgent it will be to introduce
amendments, will depend on the way the law is implemented’, explained Ms



meeting also touched on the issue of preparing a new law on NGOs. Ms Topoleva
observed that the existing law ‘had been rehashed and altered so many times
that it was no longer realistic and contained contradictions.’ Aleksei
Antonomov, the director of the Centre for Comparative Law and Elena Abrosimova,
co-director of ‘Dialog’ (IREX) the civil society support programme, would be
co-ordinating the work. The Advanced School of Economics would also be involved
in the person of Professor Lev Jacobson. Furthermore, specialists would be
having discussions to identify gaps in the law. She went on to say that the
inter-departmental working group on the reform of legislation affecting NGOs
would be recommencing its work. Previously the head of the government service,
Vladislav Kurkov, had been looking after this but now the first deputy head of
the presidential administration, Vyacheslav Volodin would be taking over.









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