Recently the Russian Public Chamber had the hearings, which were devoted to the concept of a federal draft law on volunteering. According to the authors of the concept, the law outlines the commitments of the organizations of volunteers for their members and gives necessary social guarantees to volunteers. Volunteers take the concept of the draft law as another attempt of the authorities to suppress the growth of civil activities in the society.
State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev made public in his LiveJournal blog the text of the bill concept, which the non-profit partnership “Lawyers for Civil Society” had drafted, the Novye Izvestia daily reported. The blogger commented on this text, “In this form this means very serious problems for the movement of volunteers.” The bill is seeking to regulate public relations in the sphere of volunteering and charity, the document runs. According to the document, people, who work as volunteers, should conclude a contract with legal entities. The legal entities should cover their expenses for transportation, hold the trainings over the safety rules and in case of danger insure their life and health.
The legislative novelty coincided in time with the tragic news from Krymsk, where the district authorities demanded from the volunteers to leave the centre of the flooded town. The activists of the movement “The Ecological Shift on the North Caucasus” and volunteers of the Yabloko Party had to move to the tent camp on the outskirts of Krymsk. The local authorities ousted the volunteers from the town over the competition between “official” stations for the cleanup of the aftermaths of the natural disaster and “good camps” of volunteers, the newspaper cited Ecological Shift activist Suren Gazaryan as saying.
Director of the Moscow Human Rights Bureau Alexander Brod believes that the authorities were seeking this way to hamper the spreading of unpleasant information for them, “Volunteers, who arrived in the area of the natural disaster, noticed the shortcomings of the authorities, and begin to report about them, write requests and open letters. Therefore, the authorities have various attitudes to us from a cautious to blatantly hostile attitude.”
The volunteers hamper the authorities at all levels, member of the Presidential Human Rights Council Dmitry Oreshkin believes. “Those people, who work as observers at the elections, non-profit organizations and go out for rallies, become volunteers. The state authorities should control them in all spheres,” the political expert said. The initiative of the Public Chamber is in line with the amendments into the legislation on nongovernmental organizations, libel, rallies and observers, he underlined.
The volunteers take the bill concept negatively just as usual, its author, lawyer Darya Miloslavskaya believes. “I can understand the concerns of people, but the bill concept was drafted in the previous year and was made public last April. But this is not the control over the activities of volunteers. We are just seeking to bridge a legal gap, which had emerged over the misunderstanding in the terms “militiaman” and “volunteer”, Miloslavskaya told the Novye Izvestia daily.