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Return of the Cold War? Russia Pushes New NGO Law

Return of the Cold War? Russia Pushes New NGO Law

 

Proposed legislation in Russia would redefine NGOs operating in Russia as “foreign agents.” This new classification would apply to any group that receives funding from any source outside of Russia, even if the NGO is based and operated within Russia.

The law, which passed in the lower house of parliament this Friday, would force all NGOs to submit activity reports to officials at least twice a year, revealing who provided funding for the groups. Reuters emphasizes that groups, such as Amnesty International, could be at risk of suspension if they do not submit to the new guidelines. Smaller opposition and human rights groups that work in Russia would also be at risk of paying huge fines and imprisonment if they do not submit to rigorous inspection.

The law was written by members of President Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia, and would still require three readings in the Duma and one reading in the upper house to pass. Just Russia, an opposition party, boycotted the vote this week, Reuters reports.

United Russia members and President Putin argue that the law would increase transparency and honesty within NGOs operating in Russia. As Irina Yarovaya, an author of the bill, stated, “As one says one’s name when introducing oneself to others, NGOs should in the same way be saying who they are when they introduce themselves.”

Critics fear that the title of “foreign agents” reinstates Cold War language that pits Russia against the rest of Europe and the United States. And critics of the legislation are not only based in Russia. The Moscow Times reports that members of the Solidarity movement met with U.S. Congress officials this week to discuss possible legislation that limits travel for the authors of the NGO bill.

As Solidarity activist Boris Nemtsov stated, “It is essential to include the initiators and authors of the bill in a list similar to the Magnitsky list and to limit their access to countries that sponsor, in their opinion, ‘foreign agents.’”

Champions of the possible travel ban legislation hope to include every person involved with drafting and voting for the NGO law so that they cannot travel to E.U. countries or the United States. Many opponents also want to block these same lawmakers from getting involved in the European Parliament.

Earlier this year LGBT activists in Russia urged foreign leaders to impose travel bans on Russian lawmakers that passed anti-gay legislation.

Putin and United Russia seem determined to pass the law within the next month and move swiftly in order to crack down on movements that oppose the current government. The new legislation has the potential to allow the government to censor the activities of NGOs and criminalize human rights activities in the very near future.

 

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19 comments

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12:07AM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

So sad and so worrying that after all the good changes over the recent years. Russia is moving back to being more suspicious and tightening rules .

9:08PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

The genetically engineered food is one topic -- seperate from the others. What can be done? That is what I meant to ask. One topic at a time please. Thank You.

What about a better way to go about this? WHERE ARE THE PETITIONS?

8:58PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

What can be done?

7:13PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

Capitalism is based on competition, not cooperation. "The business of America is business" and "Business is War". They just want to be like US.

5:54PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

Can you smell Vladimir Putin's fear of change?

2:01PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

Putin is in an awkward position. The economic, energy driven boom that he presided over, and that initially made him very popular, created a large, internet savy middle class with middle class expectations. They demanded free and fair elections, and when he didn't deliver them, they took to the streets by the hundreds of thousands in the dead of a Russian winter, and there they have remained. Does he want Amnesty International coaching these people? No. Do they need the help? Not really. And never forget the hand of the reempowered Russian Orthodox Church in the new Russia, either. Patriarch Kiril likely approves of this bill. He doesn't like missionaries and would love to see them all expelled.

12:17PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

Not surprising really They are still as paranoid as they were in the days of communism.

11:46AM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

As always though, we must work with what is,,, Wasn't it John Lennon who said .."there are no problems, only solutions"...we are called upon ,one and all, to be problem solvers..!!

9:43AM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

If only John Lennon's "Imagine" were more than a just...
The ultimate desire of my heart
A figament my imagination.
Sigh

9:34AM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

If I was a conspiracy theorist I would suggest that the governments of the world have got together to make their people afraid all the time. Everytime we get close to ending one war another threat looms, and we are told we must surrender more power or more money for them to "protect" us. Fortunately I don't think any group of politicians is clever enough to actually do this so it must be just another paranoid government acting up - or a "cock-up" as usual.

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