New legislation under consideration by the State Duma, and designed to crack down on the possibility of politically active NGOs using foreign funding to foment an Orange-style revolution, threatens the work of legitimate charities, many of which are the only means of supporting Russia’s orphans and handicapped.
Whistle-blowing NGO activists have publicly raised concerns, having studied the draft bill, the main thrust of which is to allow only Russian registered entities to operate as NGO’s in Russia. This means, for example, that the New York based Human Rights Watch would have to register a financially independent Russian entity which would pay taxes on grants.
However the same rules would apply to the Charities Aid Foundation, an NGO that advises and gives grants to charities across Russia.
“We believe that all the dark perspectives (being raised in the media), are only one of the possible scenarios - that will happen only if amendments (which NGOs are preparing now) are disregarded,” Kirill Ezhov of CAF Russia told Passport.
“In fact,” he went on, “it is very likely that the bill, as it has been launched, is purely a draft, and a lot of details have simply been escaped notice when deputies were working on it”.
If the bill becomes law, all 450,000 NGOs in Russia would have one year to reregister with the Justice Ministry's Federal Registration Service. The service will, in turn, be required to make sure the NGOs do not use foreign grants to fund political activities