MOSCOW, May 8 (RAPSI) - The Prosecutor General’s Office has branded three more non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Russia as “foreign agents” saying they were financed from abroad, Izvestia daily reported on Wednesday.
The latest in a series of NGOs to be listed as foreign agents are the Moscow School of Political Studies, the Urals human rights group and the Public Verdict human rights foundation.
“We have discovered three organizations, which within the period from December last year and until February and March this year received considerable sums of money from foreign sources, first of all from US sources,” the daily cited a source in the Prosecutor General’s Office.
A federal was passed last November 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 ($16,000). In February eleven Russian NGOs, Moscow Helsinki Group among them, lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights protesting against the law.
According to prosecutors, the Moscow School of Political Studies received from abroad 12.8 million rubles ($411.600) including 7.3 million rubles ($235,000) from the US-based Open Society Foundations, also known as George Soros foundation.
The Public Verdict organization, prosecutors said, received between December last year and February this year some 9.6 million rubles ($308,670), including 1.5 million rubles ($48,200) from Norway’s Helsinki Group, 1.3 million rubles ($41,800) from the United Nations and 800,000 rubles ($25,700) from the US-based National Endowment for Democracy organization.
The National Endowment for Democracy organization also allocated 850,000 rubles ($27,300) to the Urals human rights group between December 2012 and March 2013, prosecutors added.
President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that Russian NGOs received almost $1 billion in foreign funding in 2013, though the Kremlin has so far failed to name these groups when requested to do so by several prominent NGOs.
Sweeping inspections of NGOs began in several Russian regions in late March 2013. Up to 2,000 rights groups and NGOs in Russia have been raided by prosecutors and other officials, according to some estimates. State officials have come under fire from international human rights groups and Western governments for carrying out unannounced and lengthy inspections.