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State Duma suggests removing reformed NGOs from foreign agents list

If the NGO is removed from the Justice Ministry register but then violates the law and engages in political activity again, receiving financing from abroad, it can be stripped of accreditation

MOSCOW, December 2. /TASS/. The lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, on Tuesday suggested making it possible to remove nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)-“foreign agents” from a relevant list but strip them of accreditation and the chance to work in Russia in case they repeatedly break the law.

First deputy chairman of the State Duma committee on public associations and religious organizations Mikhail Markelov from the ruling United Russia party said he plans to put forward the initiative.

In an interview with TASS, Markelov said he wants to propose such a mechanism for broad discussion and, if it is supported, including by the Justice Ministry, to submit for consideration of the State Duma relevant amendments to the NGO law.

“Should this or that organization be removed from the Justice Ministry register but then violate the law and engage in political activity again, receiving financing from abroad, in case such a fact is revealed, I would suggest completely stripping these organizations of accreditation,” the lawmaker said.

He added that “it would be just, and the organizations’ activity would be more transparent and understandable.”

The law on NGOs-foreign agents was adopted in the summer of 2012. It obliges NGOs engaging in political activity and financed from abroad to get the status of “foreign agents” and be put on a special register. NGOs-foreign agents are obliged to indicate that status when publishing materials on the web and in media. They are subject to fines should they fail to comply with the law.

At a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 17, Russia’s human rights commissioner Ella Pamfilova spoke for introduction of amendments that would envision removing from the register organizations engaging in human rights protection that stopped receiving foreign funding.