Russian response to ECHR on Foreign Agents Law
The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation does not regard the law on foreign agents as excessive and denies that it restricts the operation of NGOs.
According to a report by Kommersant, the Ministry has sent a memorandum to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) referring to the Russian Constitutional Court ruling which rejected a complaint made by the Levada Centre in September 2017.
˜Russian legislation that requires foreign agent NGOs to be listed in a special register, to report on their activities and sources of finance, to label their products and to account for their income and expenditure in the appropriate way is not excessive and it does not in any way restrict NGOs in their operations. Requirements and regulations of this nature exist in various forms in many countries and are designed to ensure transparency and openness in the work of NGOs”, according to a Ministry of Justice memorandum.
In April the ECHR investigated a complaint by NGOs defined as foreign agents and presented questions to the Russian authorities. The European Court of Human Rights asked Russia to provide the justification for passing a law of this kind. In July 2017 the Russians asked the ECHR for more time to respond to this request.
The Council of Europe’s Commissioner on Human Rights is playing a third-party role in the hearings on the complaint by NGOs in Russia. In addition, the Special Rapporteur of the UN for the rights of defendants will be taking part in the hearings. The ECHR has also agreed that The Institute of Law and Public Policy, an NGO, should be involved in the hearings.
In August the Strasbourg Court registered a memorandum submitted by the Institute of Law and Public Policy. Experts believe that Russian legislation on foreign agents exceeds the limits of acceptable state involvement in the private lives of citizens.