Russia limits foreign-funded rights groups

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Russia limits foreign-funded rights groups

Russia limits foreign-funded rights groups
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Russia’s parliament has overwhelmingly passed law tightening rules for civil rights groups that receive foreign funding.

NGOs will have to register and declare their foreign interests and face fines of up to 7,000 euros if they fail to do so.

Critics say the new legislation is meant to stifle those who criticise President Vladimir Putin’s human rights record.

But the bill’s author says the law will only affect those organisations that have been, until now, unregistered.

“Nothing is changing for those organisations that already prepare financial reports,” said Duma deputy Alexandr Petrov.

“The only extra duty is they must give an account of their activities to government authorised bodies and publish this information.”

A recent poll suggests that 60 percent of Russians don’t want foreign-funded NGOs to take part in politics.

But some organisations say the law unfairly stigmatises them for accepting foreign funding.

“We tell all our major donors how much we need but its mostly western donors that offer support,” said Elena Gerasimova, from the Social and Labour Rights Centre.

“Despite numerous calls for help from Russian donors, we haven’t been able to secure large sums of money locally that supports our work and enables us to fulfil our projects,” she added.

NGOs will be forced to print the term “foreign agents” on all their publications. Critics say that move smacks of propaganda tactics last used during the Cold War.