Russian Justice Ministry suggests adjusting foreign agents law
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MOSCOW, January 22 (RAPSI) – Russia’s Justice Ministry proposed amendments to the NGO foreign agents law aimed at clarifying the terms of political activity, RIA Novosti reported on Friday.
The law adopted in November 2012 requires that all NGOs engaged in political activity and receiving foreign funding register as “foreign agents”.
The law has been broadly criticized for its loose definition of what constitutes “political activity.”
Under the amendments, political activity is linked to such fields as state-building, securing Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, enforcement of law, order and security, national defense, foreign policy, political system integrity, social and economic and national development of the country, regulation of rights and freedoms of man and citizen.
NGOs which are engaged in organisation and holding of public events, including meetings, manifestations, demonstrations, discussions and performances would be deemed to be involved in political activity.
Moreover, those NGOs which are involved in work aimed at achieveing certain results during elections or referendum, vote monitoring practices, establishment of election commissions or support of political parties would also be put on the list of those organisations which are engaged in political activity.
Influencing the work of government agencies, local authorities and officials should also be restricted, according to the amendments.
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.
After the Justice Ministry complained of NGOs' reluctance to comply with the law, it was granted authority in June 2013 to classify NGOs as foreign agents at its own discretion.