Russia's lower house mulls bill to remove NGOs from Foreign Agent List
MOSCOW, February 20 (RAPSI) – The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, adopted in the first reading Friday a bill on removing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Foreign Agent List.
NGO may be excluded from the list upon request after occasional compliance inspection conducted by the Justice Ministry, according to the bill.
The bill submitted by President Vladimir Putin is aimed at fixing legal loopholes, Olga Kazakova, Deputy Chair of the State Duma Committee on Public Associations and Religious Organizations, told journalists on Friday.
A federal law was passed in November 2012 requiring all NGOs engaged in political activity and receiving finance from abroad to register as a "foreign agents" or face fines of up to 500,000 rubles (about $16,000).
In February 2013 eleven Russian NGOs, Moscow Helsinki Group among them, lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) protesting against the law.
Inspections of NGOs began in late March 2013 when the Justice Ministry said its goal was to check activities of NGOs corresponded with the objectives of their charters and Russian legislation. Up to 2,000 rights groups and NGOs in Russia were reportedly raided by law enforcement officials.
Independent election watchdog GOLOS Association was the first NGO which faced a fine for the alleged violation of the law.
Putin indicated in August 2013 that the law should be amended. Notably, he said that clear criteria for political activity should be set.