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US state secretary expresses concerned over NGO’s future in Russia

August 13, 2015, 21:36 UTC+3
According to the US State Department, John Kerry is also concerned with Russia’s new bill that restricts the NGO’s activities in Russia
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US Secretary of State John Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry

© ITAR-TASS/Alexandra Mudrats

WASHINGTON, August 13 /TASS/. US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is concerned with the future of non-governmental organizations (NGO) and civil society in Russia, expressed his concerns to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a telephone conversation on Thursday.

According to the US State Department, Kerry is also concerned with Russia’s new bill that restricts the NGO’s activities in Russia.

Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that a ban on activities of a non-governmental organization, which becomes undesirable in Russia, does not automatically mean that democratic freedoms of the Russians are restricted.

"It would be absolutely wrong to say that Russian citizens are deprived of something if the activities of some organizations are banned," Peskov told journalists. Naturally, bans imposed one or several organizations will not mean that Russians will have restricted access to democratic /values/," the Kremlin spokesman said.

First undesirable NGO in Russia

Russia’s Justice Ministry included the US National Endowment for Democracy into the list of foreign and international non-governmental organizations whose activity is undesirable in Russia late in July.

The Fund has become the first undesirable international organization in Russia.

"Everything complies with our laws," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said commenting the decision to include the National Endowment for Democracy into the Russian Justice Ministry list of undesirable organizations.

On July 28, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office qualified the activities of the US National Endowment for Democracy as undesirable in the territory of Russia.

After a detailed analysis, Russian prosecutors concluded that the activities of the National Endowment for Democracy undermined the foundations of Russia’s constitutional order; the country’s defense capability and the security of the Russian state.

According to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, the National Endowment for Democracy used Russian commercial and non-commercial organizations under its control to take part in campaigns aimed at denying the legitimacy of results of Russian elections; organized political actions designed to influence the authorities’ decisions and discredited the service in the Russian Armed Forces.

"In pursuit of these goals, the fund allocated about $2.5 million to Russian commercial and non-commercial organizations in 2013-2015," the Prosecutor General’s Office said.

Russia’s law on undesirable organizations adopted in spring 2015 said that any foreign or international non-governmental organization could become undesirable if it threatened the foundations of Russia’s constitutional order, the country’s defense capability and the security of the Russian state.

Undesirable organizations are forbidden to create subsidiaries and spread their information materials in Russia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that most projects of the National Endowment for Democracy are aimed at destabilizing the internal situation in countries that pursued an independent policy.

"It is a non-governmental organization only on paper. In reality, it has got its money from the US budget, including funds allocated by intelligence bodies, ever since its foundation," the ministry stressed.

The Russian Foreign Ministry recalled the words of Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, who said - absolutely openly - that the organization was intended to be a beautiful facade for distributing funds among opposition circles in foreign countries.

"The deeds of the fund which is preoccupied with servicing US foreign policy interests speak for themselves," the Russian diplomats said. "The analysis of concrete projects shows that most of them are aimed at destabilizing by various means the internal situation in countries that pursue an independent policy in accordance with their own national interests rather than on orders from Washington," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Russia appreciates and supports the activities of organizations that are engaged in constructive work, including the promotion of democracy, which is in demand by Russian society. "However, we will never tolerate any mentorship and open interference in our internal affairs on the part of foreign organizations," the Russian Foreign Ministry concluded.

National Endowment for Democracy became the first undesirable international organization in Russia following a decision of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office made on July 28.

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