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MOSCOW, May 17 /ITAR-TASS/. The non-governmental associations and religious organizations committee of Russia’s State Duma has advised the lower house to adopt in the first reading a bill on the coercive listing of foreign-funded non-governmental organizations as foreign agents. The State Duma will consider the proposed law on May 20.
Under the newly-drafted piece of legislation if any non-commercial organization operating as a foreign agent has failed to apply for being included in the corresponding register the Justice Ministry will have a free hand to put it on this list at its own discretion. As the Justice Ministry has explained, starting from the moment of registration such an organization will bear various responsibilities Russian legislation establishes for the NGOs.
The bill expands the reasons for surprise inspections of NGOs, which can be ordered if the Justice Ministry receives complaints from bodies of state power or local self-government, individuals or organizations to the effect the NGO in question is operating as a foreign agent.
The NGO law was adopted in 2012 to oblige all non-profit organizations involved in political activities and getting financing from abroad to declare themselves as foreign agents. The maximum punishment for the abuse is a fine of up to 300,000 roubles (roughly 10,000 dollars) or a prison term of up to two years.
In 2013, 2,700 NGO’s operating in Russia received 36 billion roubles (over one billion dollars) from foreign sources.