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State Duma committee recommends house to adopt NGO draft law

July 03, 2012, 22:31 UTC+3

The bill may be endorsed before the end of this parliamentary session

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MOSCOW, July 3 (Itar-Tass) —— The State Duma Committee on Public and Religious Organizations has recommended the house to adopt the draft law on non-governmental organizations on July 6.

A group of United Russia deputies led by Alexander Sidyakin presented the bill to the State Duma on June 29. The bill says that Russian non-governmental organizations receiving money or other assets from foreign states, foreign state bodies, international or foreign organizations and foreign citizens and engaged in political activity in Russia, in particular, in the interest of foreign sides, shall be described as ‘foreign agents’ and added to the special NGO register.

If the bill is approved, such organizations must apply to the Justice Ministry for being added to the special register within 90 days. The failure to do that will entail administrative and criminal penalties.

The bill may be endorsed before the end of this parliamentary session (July 13).

Sidyakin told the house that the bill was based on foreign practices or even copied them by certain provisions.

Foreign states annually assign up to $7 billion for the activity of non-governmental organizations in Russia, and the funding grew significantly in 2011, the year of the latest State Duma election, he said. The Golos organization alone gained over $2 million in British and U.S. funding, which was much more than in the previous years, he said.

Another bill co-author, Nikonov said that the bill was “a mild form of self-defense of the Russian state.” If the bill is adopted, it will apply to only 1,000 out of 220,000 non-governmental organizations in the country. “That is 0.4% only,” he said.

Committee on Public and Religious Organizations Chairman Yaroslav Nikonov fully supported the bill concept and even suggested broadening it by the second reading so that the activity of non-governmental organizations was verified for its compliance with national security and geopolitical interests of Russia.

The parliamentary majority – United Russia – voiced its support to the bill.

“The openness provided by this bill will play into the hands of those receiving grants and funding from foreign sources. They will be able to operate with the maximal transparency and declare their goals and tasks,” United Russia faction leader Andrei Vorobyov said.

State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin has invited experts and interested sides to discuss the draft law on non-governmental organizations.

“Naturally, the bill is subject to broad public debates,” he said in answer to the question whether the bill might be removed from the State Duma agenda and discussed publicly, as that was demanded by the Presidential Council for the Development of the Civil Society and Human Rights.

“We invite experts and interested sides to the “Open Tribune” on Thursday. The bill will also be discussed at the State Duma,” Naryshkin said.

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