Justice minister against preventive inspections of NGOs
MOSCOW, June 19 (RAPSI) - The best approach is to hold specific inspections that follow up leads rather than preventive inspections of NGOs, Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said during a meeting with State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin on Wednesday.
Under a controversial law approved by President Vladimir Putin last year, NGOs funded from abroad and engaged in political activities are required to register as foreign agents, or face fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,000) for NGOs and up to 300,000 rubles ($10,000) for NGO directors.
Inspections of NGOs began in late March 2013 when the Justice Ministry said its goal was to check that the organizations' activities correspond with the objectives of their charters and Russian legislation.
"It would be best to move the focus of state controlling agencies from preventive to specific inspections of NGOs. Such inspections should be, first of all, held of NGOs that are presumed to be violating the law," Konovalov said.
He added that far from all NGOs violate legislation and that following the inspections sanctions have only been taken against "very few organizations."
A new law is being discussed to extend the list of grounds for surprise inspections of NGOs. Such grounds can include the failure to mend infringements by a deadline previously set by an authorized agency, complaints by individuals and legal entities and information provided by government agencies, local authorities and the media about alleged elements of extremism in the operation of NGOs, and information about violations of legislation by NGOs from federal and local authorities.
According to the bill, surprise inspections can also be ordered by the heads of authorized agencies and requested by prosecutors and election commissions.