MOSCOW, May 5 (RAPSI) – Yves Cruchten, a PACE rapporteur, has expressed concern in connection with the State Duma’s (Russia’s parliament lower house) recent proposal to further amend a federal law on NGOs. 

“I call, yet again, on Russian lawmakers to align their legislation on NGOs with international legal standards, as indicated in the Venice Commission’s Opinions Nos. 716/2013 and 717/2013,“ – a PACE official communication quotes Cruchten as saying.

This January, PACE adopted Resolution No. 2096, based on Cruchten’s report, in which the Assembly focused on the Russian law labeling NGOs that are engaged in political activities and that receive even partial foreign funding as "foreign agents." 

The Federation Council, the Russian parliament’s upper house, approved the law on July 18, 2012. Soon afterwards, the law was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The law excludes activities relating to such areas as science, culture, arts, public health, prevention of illnesses and health protection, social assistance and protection, maternal and child welfare, social assistance to disabled persons, promotion of healthy lifestyles, physical culture and sports, protection of wildlife, charity, as well as assistance to charities and voluntariness from the definition of political activity.

On April 20, 2016, the State Duma adopted in the first reading a draft law defining more precisely the areas, where political activity is carried out. According to the bill, these areas include state-building and federal organization, protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, law enforcement, protection of law and order and security, national defense, international policy, integrity and stability of the political system, social, economic and national development, functioning of central and local authorities, regulation of human and civil rights and liberties.

Earlier, Andrei Klishas, the Head of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation, has told RIA Novosti news agency that he counts on the law to be adopted very soon since it is aimed at bringing legislation in line with the stance of the Russia’s Constitutional Court.