Procedures for removing NGOs from foreign agents register

Federation Council approves legislation on the procedure for excluding NGOs from the “foreign agents” register

04.03.2015, Moscow

Legislation regulating the procedure for excluding NGOs from the “foreign agents” list has been approved by the Russian Federation Council.

Senators approved the federal law on “Amending Articles 27 and 38 of the federal law on Public Associations”, and Article 32 of the federal law on NGOs, in order to define the process and reasons for excluding bodies from the NGO register that carry out the functions of a “foreign agent”, according to a report published on the Federation Council’s website.

Under the law adopted by the State Duma, any organisation wishing to be excluded from the register must not use foreign funding or be engaged in any “political activity” for one year prior to its application for withdrawal.

“The law takes no account of amendments discussed during ‘zero readings’ in the Federation’s Public Chamber, or those put forward by NGOs. We expect them to disappear, like steam, into the ether and be ignored”, wrote Grigory Melkonyants, Co-Chair of the Movement for the Protection of Voters’ Rights, Golos (Voice), on his Facebook page. In particular, the law lacks any basis for excluding NGOs which have been “erroneously or unlawfully” included on the register, as suggested during “zero readings” in the Public Chamber.

The law removes the duty from the Justice Ministry to maintain the “actual” register, says Alexander Peredruk, lawyer at the regional public human rights organisation, Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg. “They include any organisation they like, then watch them to see if they contain any ‘agents’ which must themselves be NGOs (if requested). Processing information for including an organisation on the register takes one day, while the whole procedure to be excluded from the list takes three months”, Peredruk wrote on his Facebook page.

Earlier, two bills were submitted to the State Duma on the issue of foreign agents. The first bans senators, deputies, together with State, civil and municipal employees, from sitting on “governing bodies, trustee or supervisory boards and other organisations classed as foreign agents”. The second Bill discusses increasing the length of term for breaking the Law on Foreign Agents.

Author: Georgy Ivanushkin

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