The Russian Duma adopted a bill today (13 July) which makes the legislation governing non‑governmental organizations in Russia considerably more stringent. One of its provisions is to oblige NGOs which receive funding from abroad to call themselves “foreign agents”.
Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, has issued the following statement:
“To pillory non‑governmental organizations is to pillory people working for a free and democratic Russia.
This law creates a stigma around critical and independent civil rights organizations which stand as part of globalized networks, and it discredits their valuable work. The intention is clearly to cut them off from their ties to international human rights organizations and leave them isolated.
Calling them ”foreign agents“ gives the work these organizations do an air of conspiracy and illegal activity, which adds yet further to the pressures squeezing civil society. This law constitutes another restriction on Russian citizens who put in dedicated work for their social and political ideals.
I regret the fact that the Duma adopted this bill today, and I call on the Russian Council of the Federation to heed the criticism raised about the bill by Russian legal experts, the Human Rights Council and the Civil Chamber of the Russian Federation and not to grant it approval.”
The bill to tighten Russia’s law on NGOs was adopted at second and third reading in the Duma today. Before the bill can become law, it must next be adopted by the Council of the Federation. It would then need to be signed by the President and published.