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MOSCOW, July 6 (Itar-Tass) — The Russian State Duma voted for a bill on non-profit organizations – “foreign agents” in the first reading on Friday by 232 votes to 4 with 1 abstention. A Just Russia party faction stayed away from voting.
The bill had been drafted by a group of deputies of the United Russia party led by Alexander Sidyakin. The entire United Russia faction signed the document as co-authors on Friday.
The bill amends the existing Russian legislation on regulation of activities of non-profit organizations. It classifies all Russian non-profit organizations which receive finances and other property from foreign states as “foreign agents” which are supposed to be included in a special register of non-profit organizations. If the bill becomes a law, these organizations will be obliged to submit applications to the Russian Justice Ministry to include them in this register. They will face administrative and criminal charges if they violate this rule.
Alexander Sidyakin, one of the bill’s main authors, described all the reservations as “hysterical and delirious.” He also added that the bill took account of international practices. According to Sidyakin, foreign states allocate up to 7 billion dollars annually to support the operation of non-profit organizations in Russia. These financial infusions increased considerably in 2011 after the last year elections to the Russian State Duma.
Deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov, another co-author who’s the grandson of Vyacheslav Molotov, the people’s commissar for foreign affairs under Stalin, said that the bill was “a mild form of self-defense by Russian statehood.” If adopted, this law will affect only 1,000 out of 220,000 non-profit organizations operating in Russia. “That amounts to a mere 0.4 percent,” Nikonov clarified.