First NGO applies for exemption from Foreign Agent List
MOSCOW, March 20 (RAPSI, Diana Gutsul) - The Kostroma Center for Support of Public Initiatives, a non-government organization, has filed an application with the Russian Ministry of Justice requesting that it be excluded from the registry of NGOs operating as foreign agents, the organization’s representative Ramil Akhmetgaliyev told RAPSI on Friday.
“The amendments to the law on exempting NGOs from the Foreign Agent List took effect today so we immediately applied to the Justice Ministry. The application may take up to three months to process,” the spokesperson told the agency.
In the application, the center claims that it has not received any foreign funding for two years and three months now and has not been involved in any kind of activity for one year and seven months. “Therefore, currently there are no actual or legal grounds to recognize the center as a foreign agent,” the application states.
Akhmetgaliyev says that if the Justice Ministry excludes the organization from the list of foreign agents, it will be able to resume its operations.
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 $8,400).
In February 2013, eleven Russian NGOslodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) protesting the law.
Audits of NGOs began in late March 2013 when the Justice Ministry said its goal was to check if the 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.
President Vladimir Putin indicated in August 2013 that the law should be amended. Notably, he said that clear criteria for political activity should be set.
In February 2015, Putin submitted the bill on removing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the Foreign Agent List, under whichan NGO may be exempted from the list upon request after occasional compliance audits are conducted by the Justice Ministry.