France wants Russia to explain recent NGO inspections
PARIS, March 27 - RAPSI. France has asked Russia to explain the recent inspections of a number of NGOs in the country, some of which are French, Philippe Lalliot, the spokesperson of the French Foreign Ministry, said at a news briefing on Wednesday.
He said the French Foreign Ministry sent an inquiry to the Russian Embassy in Paris in the morning.
The St. Petersburg Prosecutor's Office announced the selective audit of some 5,000 NGOs in the city earlier this month. Similar checks are underway in other cities. Local authorities have raided the offices of two German NGOs in Moscow and St. Petersburg twice in one week.
Amnesty International's Russian office was searched by inspectors from the local prosecutor's office and the tax authority, Pavel Chikov, the chief of the Agora interregional association of human rights groups, said on Monday.
The Moscow office of the For Human Rights movement and the Social Information Agency were also searched by the local prosecutor's office, the tax authority and the Justice Ministry, according to media reports.
Russian NGOs are being investigated in accordance with the Prosecutor Generals Office's plan approved in December.
Earlier this month, the members of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, as well as several human rights activists, asked Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to explain the inspections. His spokesperson was quoted by the media as saying that the prosecutors are interested in determining the funding sources of the NGOs, as well as the nationality of their sponsors.
Meanwhile, on March 25, the Justice Ministry commented on the raids, noting that the NGOs are under investigation to ensure that their activities comply with their charters and with Russian law. If violations are found, the ministry will take action as prescribed by the law, the ministry stressed.
The highly controversial law on NGOs, which took effect last November, requires politically active NGOs with foreign 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 via 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.