Russian Justice Ministry plans unscheduled checks on AIDS NGOs
The Russian Justice Ministry has decided to carry out unscheduled checks on NGOs active in Russia in the field of HIV/AIDS. The inspections were to have begun in June and to be completed by the end of September. In the first instance they will take place in four regions: St Petersburg, Tatarstan, and the Kirov and Kursk oblasts. The inspectors are interested in the NGOs’ public activities and budgets, and in particular, any grants they receive.
The community of NGOs of this sort are wondering why this has been decided on right now, says Tatiana Yevlampieva, from the Foundation for Social Development and Healthcare FOKUS-MEDIA. She said they do not know the reason – such unscheduled checks are usually carried out for a specific reason. During previous checks, she said, the main interest was in any foreign money received by the NGO, or because of some difficulties it was experiencing. Her personal opinion was that probably these NGOs were targeted because they are supported by various foundations and organisations and the state wants to be sure that its very strict rules are being observed. However, so far the Ministry had not requested any documents.
NGOs working on HIV/AIDS issues have been sharply critical of state policy in this field, said Pavel Chikov, from the Agora Association. He thought these checks could be an example of implementation of the law on “foreign agents” in a sphere of activity where the state wishes to exert pressure on organisations it finds “uncomfortable”.