Russian President Vladimir Putin has come out in strong support of a draft bill that human rights groups denounce – saying it will heavily restrict their work. Meeting with the head of his advisory body on human rights, Putin promised the bill, that tightens controls on foreign NGOs, would not harm civil freedoms. “Political activity in the Russian Federation has to be as transparent as possible, which means that all the financing processes of any political activity must be transparent as well,” he said.
“I think that the state has to keep an eye on the ongoing financing of political activities in our country from abroad.” Yesterday the lower house of parliament gave preliminary backing to the bill in a 370-18 vote. NGOs will have to re-register as Russian organisations if they are to continue operating. Putin has previously accused NGOs of being used by foreign nations to advance political agendas. It is feared their work monitoring trouble-spots such as Chechnya will be severely impaired.