MOSCOW, July 6 (Itar-Tass) - On Friday, the State Duma will consider the first reading of a bill, which toughens control over non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which are funded from abroad. Representatives of the NGOs call the bill repressive. Chairperson of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva stated that she will not abide by a new law and will not be named as a foreign agent. There are no doubts that the bill will be approved, because United Russia and the LDPR already stated that they will support it.
Upcoming debates in the State Duma over a bill on Russian NGOs, which perform the functions of foreign agents, stirred up an information avalanche on Thursday, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. The Public Chamber called the term ‘foreign agent’ as that not complying with the domestic legislation. The human rights activists opposed the actions of the authorities to discredit activists of the public society. The conclusion to the bill that the Public Chamber made totally rejects one of the main provisions of the United Russia legislative initiative – these notorious ‘foreign agents’, the newspaper noted. The Public Chamber noted that the use of this term does not comply with the Russian legislation. The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily believes that the Public Chamber actually fully confirmed its version that the term ‘foreign agent’ was introduced in the bill deliberately. Since all people take it only in the negative way. No one can select a synonym for it, but just a spy.
The bill on the NGOs is being approved quicker than the scandalous law on rallies, the Kommersant daily noted. But if all opposition factions were fighting against the law on rallies, only the A Just Russia faction intends to vote against the bill on the NGOs. United Russia and the LDPR will support the bill. The largest opposition faction (92 deputies) of the Communist Party also agreed to toughen the law on the NGOs. First Vice-Speaker of the State Duma from the Communist Party Ivan Melnikov explained that the Communists “historically and traditionally do not approve anything, when the Western finances are used as a smear.”
“Never under no conditions the Moscow Helsinki Group will be registered as a foreign agent,” the newspaper quoted chairperson of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva as saying. She passed a relevant address for Vladimir Putin to chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov. For his part, Fedotov noted that the law on foreign agents may be needed, but “a person, which acts on instructions of a foreign country, on money of a foreign country and in interests of a foreign country” should be considered as a foreign agent. The chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Council sent an address to the State Duma asking to delay the debates on the bill. Alexei Kudrin’s Committee of Civil Initiatives urged the State Duma to turn it down.
Meanwhile, Mikhail Fedotov intends to meet with Prime Minister and United Russia leader Dmitry Medvedev to discuss several highly publicized laws, including a bill on foreign agents. He agreed about a meeting during a telephone conversation with Medvedev the other day, the Izvestia daily reported.
If the amendments in the law on the NGOs are approved in the variant unacceptable for human rights activists, this issue will be high on the agenda of a meeting with Medvedev, Mikhail Fedotov pledged. The Civil Code rather than the law should be amended, he said. Fedotov considers the amendments, which United Russia initiated, as conceptually unelaborated.
Why Dmitry Medvedev, who is the United Russia leader, does not react to the vital laws on rallies and the NGOs, which his party initiated? the newspaper contemplated.
President of the Foundation of Efficient Politics Gleb Pavlovsky believes that first the society does not demand a response from the premier, because they do not take him as the leader of party, secondly, the prime minister himself pursues a very cautious policy and this may result in a dangerous situation.
“Under the influence of emotions the law, which will turn the whole environment of non-governmental organizations in nothing, will be enacted. No activist of the civil society will agree to call himself as a foreign agent. There will be a total boycott,” the political expert said with confidence.