Russian Duma votes to increase control over NGOs

[JURIST] The Russian Duma [official website], the lower house of parliament, has approved a bill that would greatly increase state control over non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by requiring them to register with a state commission. The law, passed Wednesday by 370 deputies, demands that all informal and foreign groups must register as independent Russian legal entities. NGOs must also provide officials with financial and other documents and allow representatives to attend any event held by the organization. With 300,000 NGOs currently operating in Russia, many fear these conditions will be difficult to meet and will severely hinder NGO activity. Foreign groups like Amnesty International [advocacy website] and Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] say the bill would force them to close their Russian offices. Proponents of the bill say it is necessary to prevent money laundering and improve financial oversight. Others, however, feel is it the Russian government's attempt to thwart the influence of NGOs who receive foreign funding and might try to promote an Ukraine-style "Orange Revolution" in Russia. Earlier this year, President Putin [official website] said he would not tolerate foreign money being used to fund political activities. The NGO bill must still undergo several additional readings, approval by the upper house of parliament, and signature by the President before it becomes law. BBC News has more. MosNews has local coverage.



 

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