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MOSCOW, January 30. /ITAR-TASS/. The presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights is not preparing a draft list of foreign charity organizations, from which Russian NGOs may receive money without fear to be numbered among foreign agents.
"I have not seen such a draft. And such a possibility does not seem convincing to me," the council's head Mikhail Fedotov told Itar-Tass, commenting on media reports that the document was worked out by the council and the presidential administration in the course of preparation for an international charity investment forum.
"The point is not from whom to receive, but for what activities. We agree with the position of the Prosecutor General's Office, which believes the notion of political activities with regard to NGOs is vague," the council chairman noted.
According to him, there are instructions from the Russian president to work out proposals to hold an international investment forum of donors to support socially-oriented NGOs. But it is a long way. It is early to say when the forum will be held. Its concept is being prepared now, Fedotov explained.
"Favorable conditions must be created for organizations ready to invest in our NGOs. Russian NGOs have to compete with foreign organizations to receive funds. We have scared foreign charity donors. It is more comfortable for them in countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, in countries where their aid will be received with gratitude," the Human Rights Council head concluded.
Grants from foreign sponspors
Russia’s Izvestia newspaper wrote on Thursday that beginning next year non-governmental organizations would be allowed to apply for grants from foreign sponsors. The Council for Human Rights together with the presidential administration has decided how to settle the problem of lack of funds for NGOs without the risk for human rights organizations to be numbered among foreign agents. A special charity investment forum is planned to be held this year to present foreign foundations that suit Russian authorities. As a result of the forum work, a list of foreign donors will be compiled, cooperation with which will not lead to the foreign agent status to be attached to NGOs, the daily says.
The forum will be organized by the Human Rights Council. Its main goal is to attract foreign and international charity funds for social projects of Russian non-governmental organizations. NGOs that will receive funds from those foreign foundations that will be among forum participants will not risk being called foreign agents.
However, there must be no access to Russia for foundations that under the guise of social projects channeled funds into Russian organizations with the aim of destabilizing the political situation in the country, factually sponsoring opposition anti-government forces. Money received by NGOs from foreign grant operators will be really aimed at social needs, Izvestia cites a source of the presidential Human Rights Council as saying.
Attracting investors on forum
A HRC member, Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova told the Izvestia that the president had instructed the council to consider holding an investment forum to attract foreign investors. The council must make a report to the head of state by April 1.
"There is an idea to hold a forum with the help of which to increase foreign investments in socially-oriented projects. These may be projects of Russian and foreign donors," the council member said.
Topoleva-Soldunova believes the main task is to change the atmosphere around Russian NGOs and foreign donors. "The law on foreign agents has created an unfavorable situation when any foreign support is viewed as blameworthy and harmful, but we want to change the attitude to it," she noted.