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Moscow Helsinki Group vows to give up foreign funding

July 13, 2012, 20:31 UTC+3

The law gives Russian non-profit organisations engaged in political activities and using foreign funding the status of “foreign agents”

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MOSCOW, July 13 (Itar-Tass) —— The Moscow Helsinki Group has vowed to give up foreign funding following the adoption of the law that gives non-profit organisations engaged in politics the status of “foreign agents”.

“We will raise funds, some small amounts at least to keep our office running. In the autumn I will put my collection of Gzhel pottery and art albums on sale,” Moscow Helsinki Group Head Lyudmila Alexeyeva said on Friday, July 13.

She recalled that the group had worked without financial support for many years. “I was among the founders of the group in 1976. And we received the first grant in 1993. Somehow we managed to get by without money, and we will do so again now,” she said.

The law gives Russian non-profit organisations engaged in political activities and using foreign funding the status of “foreign agents”.

The law is to enter into force 120 days after official publication.

The draft law was submitted to the State Duma on June 29 by a group of United Russia MPs led by Alexander Sidyakin and can enter into force in October or November of this year, according to a Kremlin source.

“The draft law establishes a transitional period: it will enter into force 90 days after official publication,” the source said.

Under effective legislation, the upper house of parliament has to send an approved draft law to the president, which means that the draft law should arrive in the presidential administration not later than July 23. After that the president has 14 days to study the document. If President Vladimir Putin uses the entire period allowed by law and signs it only on August 6, it will have to be officially published within seven days by August 13. In this case, the law will enter into force from the middle of November at the latest.

“If an NPO meets two conditions - gets foreign funding and is engaged in political activities - it will be required to be listed in the register of NPOs that perform the functions of ‘foreign agents’,” a Kremlin source said. Foreign funding means “all money coming from abroad from governments, states, international or other organisations, individuals as well as Russian organisations with foreign capital with the exception of open joint stock companies with foreign capital”.

“The draft law largely copies the rules of the American law on the registration of foreign agents. They have rather strict registration rules,” the Kremlin official said.

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