Human rights activists ask prosecutor general to explain inspections at NGOs
MOSCOW, March 21 - RAPSI. Members of the presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights have asked Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to explain the reason behind the sweeping inspections of NGOs. Their letter to him has been posted on the council's website.
Human rights advocates write that they are receiving many letters from across Russia about inspections by prosecution offices.
"In some cases, inspectors refer to an order from the Prosecutor General's Office to check the NGOs for compliance with the federal law on extremism. However, this explanation seems odd, given that representatives of fire, tax, labor and other inspectorates often attend these inspections," the letter reads.
The council members propose holding a special meeting of the council on this issue in the near future and to invite senior officials of the Prosecutor Generals Office to it.
They have also asked the Prosecutor General if "the prosecution agencies have indeed received information that tens, if not hundreds of NGOs under inspection may be involved in extremist activity."
Kommersant newspaper wrote in early March, citing prosecution's representative Marina Gridnyova, that the Prosecutor General's Office together with the Federal Tax Service and the Justice Ministry had begun a sweeping inspection of NGOs.
The prosecution is interested in the NGOs' sources of funding, including the nationality of their sponsors.
Gridnyova said that these inspections would be held across the country "in compliance with the Prosecutor General's Office's action plan."
Human rights champions regard this inspection as the first step toward compiling a list of "foreign agents" among NGOs.
The highly controversial law on NGOs, which took effect in November last year, requires politically active NGOs with foreign sources of funding to register as "foreign agents." Once registered, these NGOs face heightened scrutiny. They are required to file regular disclosures with the government and to mark all materials disseminated through major channels as the product of a "foreign agent." The law also requires NGOs to publish a biannual performance report and to carry out an annual financial audit.