NGOs issue statement on the bill requiring them to register as ‘foreign agents’

Statement

Statement on the impermissibility of abridging humanitarian, charitable, human rights and other socially oriented activities of non-commercial organizations in Russian and the designation of the majority of their participants as effecting “the functions of a foreign agent.”

We, Russian citizens and representatives of Russian non-commercial, nongovernmental organizations, express our bewilderment and protest against the adoption of bill No. 102766-6 “On the introduction of amendments to specific legislative acts of the Russian Federation with regard to the regulation of activities of non-commercial organizations executing the function of foreign agents.” We acknowledge the right of the government of “organizing necessary social monitoring of the work of non-commercial organizations performing political activities on the territory of the Russian Federation and financed by foreign sources,” however we object to the concept of the bill and its suggested formulations. They do not solve the posed task, and threaten humanitarian, charitable, human rights and other socially oriented activities of extremely diverse non-commercial organizations operating in the interest of Russia and its citizens.

The conditions for these activities have developed in Russia over the course of th  last years – legislation on NGOs has progressed, programs of support have been adopted, social partnerships have improved. Adopting the bill means crossing out these efforts, and worsening conditions for the people for whom non-commercial organizations operate.

If the bill becomes law, the stigma of “foreign agent” will be branded on all non-commercial organizations, independent of their sphere of activity, that at any time receive funding, the source of which is located abroad – directly from foreign government programs, international organizations, charitable funds, foreign partners, citizens of any country, or even from Russian organizations that have received funding from abroad, or, in the case of businesses, earning money on the foreign market. At this, practically all work of any NGO falls under the bill’s definition of “political activity,” even those whose work is far from politics. Without doubt, all non-commercial organizations attempt to influence public opinion and decisions of government agencies in the spheres in which they work to achieve systematic and improved conditions for their clients and beneficiaries. This relates equally to the activities of charitable and regional organizations, funds of local collectives, professional unions and other NGOs. How otherwise can we defend the public interest and achieve systematic chance and develop our country?

The current draft of the suggested bill misleads the residents of Russia and creates an image of an enemy in the face of non-commercial organizations. Many of them devoted enormous attention to the transparency of their activities and don’t make a secret of them –accountings of their funding sources and expenditures can be found on the websites of NGOs and of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, where they are annually displayed in accordance with legislation.

Tightening demands in accountancy and exorbitant fine and other sanctions for its violation will turn out to be overwhelming for small regional organizations that are far from politics but that fall under the purview of the bill under consideration.

Should the bill be adopted, universities, schools, museums and many other organizations will have to announced themselves as “foreign agents.” Such an approach bears witness to the low juridical quality of the bill and creates an atmosphere for its preferential application and corruption.

We insist on the necessity of a complete revision of the bill based exclusively on the task of “organizing necessary social monitoring of the work of non-commercial organizations performing political activities on the territory of the Russian Federation and financed by foreign sources.” We consider impermissible the hasty adoption of the bill without conduction wide public discussion.

July 3, 2012

Signed:

1. The autonomous non-commercial organization Agency for Social Information, Yelena Andreyevna Topoleva-Soldunova, member of the Public Chamber of Russia.

2. The autonomous non-commercial organization Studio-Dialog, Olga Arsenova Suvorova, director
3. The charitable fund The Biodiversity Center, Alexei Vladimirovich Zimenko, general director
4. The Vladimir Potanin Charitable Fund, Larisa Gennadievna Zelkova, member of the Public Chamber of Russia
5. The charitable center Cooperation in Fate, Alexei Ivanovich Golovan, executive director
6. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia, Igor Evgenivich Chestin, director
7. The All-Russia Association of Regional Human Rights Oraganizations, Daniil Alexandrovich Meschchyakov, chairman

8. The city charitable fund The Tolyatti Fund, Boris Albertovich Tsirulnikov, executive director

9. TheVerkhovsky, director

10. The Krasnoyarsk regional ecological social movement Friends of Siberian Forests, Andrei Petrovich Laletin, head

11. The inte-regional association of human rights organizations AGORA, Pavel Vladimirovich Chikov, chairman
12. The inter-regional Public Organization The Committee Against Torture (Nizhny Novgorod) Igor Alexandrovich Kalyapin, Chairman
13. The inter-regional public fund The Siberian Center for Support of Public Initiatives (Novosibirsk) Yelena, Pavlovna Malitskaya, president
14. The Youth Human Rights Movement, Anna Yurevna Dobrobolskaya, coordinating committee member

15. The Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmilla Mikhailovna Alexeyeva, chairwoman

16. The nongovernmental educational foundation The Russian Economics School, Sergei Maratovich Guriev, provost
17. The non-commercial organization The Charitable Fund Daunsayd AP, Anna Yurevna Portugalova, director
18. The non-commercial grant giving organization Donor Forum, Natalya Geogovna Kamninarskaya, executive secretary

19. The non-commercial partnership Downs Syndrome, Anatoly Evgenievich Rabinovich, board chairman

20. The non-commercial partnership Lawyer for Civil Society, Darya Igorevna Miloslavskaya, member of Russias Public Chamber
21. The Penza fund for local society “Citizens Union, Oleg Viktorovich Sharipkov, executive director

22. The regional charitable public organization The Center for Medical Educators, Anna Lvovna Bitova, President

23. The regional charitable public organization The Arkangelsk Center for Social Techonogy, Marinva Yevgenievna Mikhailova, director
24. The regional social organization for invalids Perspective, Denis Rosa, Director

25. The regional social organization for cooperation for children’s defense Child’s Rights, Boris Lvovich Altshuler, member of the Russian Public Chamber
26. The Russian charitable fund No to Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Oleg Vladimirovich Zykov, president
27. The Russian charitable fund Fires of Life, Yekatrina Konstantinova Chistyakov, executive director

28. The Russian aid fund of the Kommersant publishing house Kommersant, Lev Sergeyevich Ambinder, manager, president of the Rusfund

29. The St Petersburg charitable public organization The Center for the development of non-commercial organizaions, Anna Skvortsova, executive director
30. The Social Verdict fund, Natalya Yevgenievna Taubina, director

31. The Dmitry Zima Fund for non-commercial programs, Dynasty, Anna Yurevna Piotrovskaya, Director

32. The KAF fund for philanthropic support and development, Maria Mikhailovno Chertok, director
33. The Freedom of Information Fun, Ivan Yurevich Pavlov, chairman

34. The fund for social development and health preservation, FOKUS MEDIA, Yevgeniya Georgievna Alexeyeva, director

35. The EKOSOTsIS fund, Alexei Yurievich Kozlov, director
36. The Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Yury Dzhuansherovich Dhibladze, president
37. The Center for Social and Labor Rights, Yelena Sergeyevna Gerasimova, director

38. The environmental group Ecodefence, Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman

39. The ecological education center Sanctuaries, Natalya Romanovna Dailina, director, member of the Public Chamber of Russia