Russian Non-commercial Organisations to work with Counterparts Abroad
The problems experienced by Russian Non-commercial Organisations that maintain links abroad were discussed at a round table on the subject organised by the Federation Council’s Committee on Developmental Issues concerning the Institutions of Civil Society in Co-operation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Committee’s Chair, Boris Shpigel, said that there were around 250,000 religious and social organisations, charitable and other foundations, associations, unions, non-governmental and non-commercial organisations operating in Russia, However, Alexander Orlov, director of the Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Liaison with Subjects of the Federation, Parliament and Socio-Political Organisations, expressed the view that many organisations are still weak and poorly structured so requiring government support. Mr Shpigel added that they were interested in forming connections abroad and exchanging experience with foreign colleagues. Fourteen NGOs have the status of ‘participant and partner’ in the Conference of International Non-governmental Organisations of the Council of Europe. The Conference pays special attention to holding meetings and seminars in the Russian Federation in which Russian NGOs participate devoted to the problems involved in the development of civil society.
A three-year programme of co-operation between the Conference and Russian NGOs is currently underway. The executive director of the ‘Russky Mir’ Foundation and Head of the Public Chamber’s Inter-Committee Working Group on International Affairs, Vyacheslav Nikonov, said that even in soviet times organisations worked with colleagues from other countries. Today voluntary organisations maintain links with Russians abroad and protect their rights. They help ethnic minorities with their civil rights and work with the Russian language media. A new development is the work of religious and cultural groups such as the Andrei Pervozvanny Foundation and the World Jewish Congress.
Darya Miloslavskaya, director of the Russian branch of the International Non-commercial Law Centre brought up the subject of the ensuring that foreign non-commercial organisations can work in Russia as well as vice versa. She thought that Russia should sign up to the European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-governmental Organisations that was signed in 1986. This provides that if an organisation is registered in one of the signatory countries, then it has the same rights and obligations in those other countries that have acceded to the convention. If Russia becomes a party to the convention, Russian non-commercial organisations will be able to extend their activities overseas.