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Presidential Council of Human Rights will ask the president to amend law on NGOs

July 18, 2013, 11:56 UTC+3
On September 3, all members of the council will meet with Vladimir Putin and will make their proposals to him
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The members of the Presidential Council of Human Rights will ask again President Vladimir Putin to introduce amendments in the law on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Izvestia daily reported. The newspaper noted that already on July 24 the Presidential Council will hold a meeting of the long-standing committee for the development of the NGOs, at which the proposals to amend the law will be discussed. On September 3, all members of the council will meet with Vladimir Putin and will make their proposals to him.

Chairman of the Presidential Council of Human Rights Mikhail Fedotov told the Izvestia daily that, first and foremost, the human rights activists are discontent with the terms ‘political activity’ and ‘foreign agent’ included in the law. These wordings are too vague, therefore, the controlling agencies can take them incorrectly.

“We propose instead of the term ‘foreign agent’ use the words ‘an organization, which is funded from foreign sources’. It would be more correct to formulate political activity as the activity, which pursues political goals. This is a matter of clear terms,” Fedotov said.

The federal law on non-governmental organizations was approved by the State Duma in July 2012, the newspaper recalled. The document obliged the organizations, which receive the foreign funding and carry out political activity, to register as a foreign agent. The enactment of the law stirred up the protests among the human rights activists and non-governmental organizations. Then two largest Russian human rights organizations “For Human Rights” and “Memorial” stated about their refusal from foreign grants and the registration as foreign agents.

In November 2012, members of the Presidential Council for Human Rights asked Putin to amend the law. The president agreed with their arguments then. “I believe that everything that is related with politics should be withdrawn from the effect of this law,” the president said then.

Since then with Putin’s participation it was decided to create a mediator (Ella Pamfilova’s organization Civil Dignity became the mediator), which would distribute major state grants between the non-governmental organizations in need, which do not want to register as foreign agents and receive the monetary funds from abroad. No legislative amendments have been made since then, so, the human rights activists want to address again to the president.

It is planned at a meeting with the president to note the groundlessness of prosecutor’s checks. The human rights activists have many questions over a report of Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika in the Federation Council, as the latter stated that the non-governmental organizations committed over 500 violations of effective legislation. Chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva hopes that the Presidential Council of Human Rights will find support of the president.

“I do not know how the president will act, but he said that the term of political activity should be revised. He will agree on this to some extent,” the human rights activist recalled.

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