NHC supports statement by the Civic Solidarity Platform on the amendments to the Russian NGO Law
The draft law would label organisations that receive funding from abroad for political activities “foreign agents”, which was described by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland as something that reminded him of Soviet times. The controversial bill is being rushed through the legislative process, in a similar fashion to the recent legislation which greatly increased fines for violations of protest laws. It is likely to be approved on Friday in its second and third readings by the Duma and will then go to the Federation Council and to President Vladimir Putin for final approval. Earlier this week, a Kremlin source said that the bill could enter law this fall.
Failure to comply with the law could result in maximum jail sentences of four years and/or fines of up to 300,000 rubles (€7,500) for NGO members. The law would also tighten the government’s financial control over NGOs. Recent amendments seemingly added some nuances, exempting religious organizations, state-owned corporations or NGOs created by the government from the requirement to register themselves as foreign agents. After removing religious organizations and a number of specific activities from the scope of the law, what is left is obviously directed against human rights organizations that receive foreign financing.
The NHC and the other members of Civic Solidarity continue to support the assertion made by a group of major Russian human rights leaders in a July 5 letter to the leadership of the State Duma that “The real purpose of this bill is to discredit and de facto destroy the largest independent civic organizations in our country.”