Concern about wave of NGO harassment in Russia
In the last few weeks hundreds of NGOs in different parts of Russia have been subjected to inspections apparently aimed at determining whether they comply with legal requirements. According to an order from the General Prosecutor’s office, which has been published by media, regional prosecutors have been instructed to particularly look into the “lawfulness” of NGO funding, as well as possible signs of “extremism” in their activities. The inspections have in many cases been conducted in an intimidating fashion, with inspectors examining NGO premises, questioning NGO staff members and prohibiting them to leave or make phone calls. This campaign of inspections comes after a number of legislative changes over the past year which seek to put limits on NGO-activities, in particular on acttivities of citizens criticizing of trying to influence government policies.
The Netherlands Helsinki Committee has joined an international appeal by the Civic Solidarity Platform against this intimidation of NGOs. Its full text is available here.
The EU-Russia Civil Society Platform, of which the NHC is a member, also has issued a statement of concern about the large-scale inspections.