MOSCOW, May 30 (RAPSI) - Leading Russian economists have called on the government to review the law requiring NGOs to register as foreign agents because the current wording may seriously undermine cooperation between independent experts and the authorities.
The letter, signed by many economists that have served as expert consultants to the government, has been published by Vedomosti newspaper.
The highly controversial law on NGOs, which came into effect in November 2012, requires politically active NGOs with sources of foreign funding to register as "foreign agents." Once registered, these NGOs face heightened scrutiny.
Inspections of NGOs began in late March 2013 when the Justice Ministry said its goal was to check that these organizations' activities corresponded with the objectives of their charters and Russian legislation.
The economists wrote in the letter that inspections have been held at a number of research centers and the Association of Independent Centers of Economic Analysis (ARETT).
They also protest against the use of the term "agent" with regards to research and educational establishments.
Continued pressure from law enforcement agencies may lead to the closure of research centers, will negatively affect the quality of economic analysis, and may even have negative consequences for the national economy, they write.
"There was a time in Russian history when the economic science and economic analysis were fully controlled by the state. As a result of this control and the ideological blinkers [placed on researchers], incompetent decisions were taken in the sphere of economic policy," the economists write.