Russian NGOs Want Putin To Explain Funding Claim

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters

Dozens of Russian NGOs are demanding that President Vladimir Putin
prove his claim that some NGOs in Russia are receiving a combined $1
billion in foreign funding.

Putin made the accusation during an interview with Germany’s ARD public
television last week when justifying the need for a recent wave of
much-criticized state inspections of hundreds of NGOs in Russia.

A letter to Putin signed by 56 leading NGOs in Russia, including rights
group Memorial and election-monitoring group Golos, was made public on
April 11.

NGO leaders urged Putin to order authorities to publish a list of NGOs that received those foreign funds.

Under a law passed in November, NGOs operating in Russia are required to
officially register as “foreign agents” if they receive financing from
abroad.

The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, said
on April 11 that Russian authorities are hampering the work of NGOs with
the new restrictive law and the recent wave of inspections.

«I think it has a chilling effect actually,» Muiznieks told a Moscow
news conference. «This term, ‘chilling effect’, is often used in the
Council of Europe with regard to the freedom of expression and
restrictions on the freedom of expression. Here, I think, we can talk
about a chilling effect on the freedom of association and the NGO work.»

On April 9, the Russian Justice Ministry said it was taking the
vote-monitoring group Golos to court for failing to register as a
foreign agent.

Golos, which denies it has received foreign money since the law came into force, faces a fine of up to 500,000 roubles.

http://www.rferl.org/content/putin-ngo-russia-crackdown-billion/24955200.html

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