‘Socially-oriented’ NGOs now covers corruption and ethnic issue.
Panfilova: Amendments to the Act on NGOs help tie up loose ends in the law
The amendments relate to types of activities of socially-oriented NGOs.
Thus, socially oriented activities include: urging public intolerance to
corruption; the development of multi-ethnic partnerships, the retention and
protection of local culture and customs, languages and traditions of ethnic
communities within Russia. On 6 January, Vladimir Putin signed the amendments
to the law on NGOs, which has been welcomed by experts.
NGOs involved in
these types of activities will receive support from the authorities and local
governments. The Act on widening the scope of NGO activities was discussed by
the Duma on 19 December 2012 together with the amendments forbidding adoption
of Russian orphans by US citizens.
‘This is one of the
few positive law initiatives, despite the wording ‘intolerance to corruption’,
which is absent in the law. The meaning is clear however’, says Darya
Miloslavskaya, Director of the Russian branch of the International Centre for
Non-Commercial Law and member of the Civic Chamber, in an interview with ASI.
‘Considering the public interest in the issue of corruption, many organisations
involved in such activities can potentially ask for privileges given to NGOs’,
said Miloslavskaya. She also hopes that NGOs involved in anti-corruption
activities and ethnic relations etc. may in future be given government support.
Director of Transparency International, a centre dedicated to fighting
corruption, stressed that these changes are important to support
anti-corruption activities of smaller, regional NGOs. ‘I can say that in this
situation it is becoming more difficult to support the network of day-to-day surgeries
(at the moment there are six of them). Changes like this are vital for regional
grant programmes. We will continue supporting and developing the network of our
regional surgeries and those that are partnership-based, and helping them
obtain grants’, said Elena. She also thinks that the amendments have tied up
obvious ‘loose ends’ in the law, as fundamentally all activities related to
civil anti-corruption control or expertise are socially-oriented. What had been
overlooked previously has been now put right, said Panfilova.