January 29, 2013 21:13
Russian Justice Ministry proposes tighter rules on NGOs
MOSCOW. Jan 29 (Interfax) - Russia's Justice Ministry is proposing legislation to extend rules on surprise governmental inspections of nongovernmental organizations having "foreign agent" status to the rest of Russian NGOs.
The draft law that would amend Article 32 of the law "On Nonprofit Organizations" and was posted on the ministry's website on Tuesday would prescribe the same list of official reasons for such inspections for "foreign agent" and all other NGOs.
The reasons for a "foreign agent" to undergo an unannounced inspection include a report from a private individual, government agency or media group that there are indications of extremism in its activities, an allegation by a government agency that the NGO has committed any other offense, or a decision of the president or government to have the organization checked.
On the other hand, the only reason for inspecting any other NGO that an application from an election commission for checking information stated by individuals or entities in making donations to such an organization.
The law that makes it binding on foreign-financed Russian NGOs engaging in politics to register as "foreign agents" came into force on November 21, 2012.
Some of Russia's NGOs, including the Moscow Helsinki Group, Memorial, Golos, Civil Support and For Human Rights, declared they would boycott the law.
Shchit i Mech (Shield and Sword), a group based in the Chuvashia republic, has so far been the only NGO to apply for registration as a "foreign agent." However, the Justice Ministry turned down the application, arguing that the group's planned activities as stated in its constitution would not be aimed at changing the government policy.
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