NGOs will not register as foreign agents – Moscow Helsinki Group chairman

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(Interfax, MOSCOW. April 4, 2013) None of the leading NGOs will register as a foreign agent following prosecutors’ inspections, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the head of the Russia’s oldest human rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, told Interfax on Thursday.

“I know for sure than no one will register. No matter how much they try,” Alekseyeva said.

Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Buksman denied that the recent inspections of NGOs are biased earlier on Thursday.

“I know for sure that people will not get registered as foreign agents. The reason is that we are not foreign agents,” Alekseyeva said.

“That’s the kind of laws that are adopted in Russia. If they adopt a law stating that birds should live in the ocean and fish should fly in the sky, what will happen? Nothing because birds can’t live in the ocean and fish don’t fly. We can’t be foreign agents because we are not foreign agents,” she said.

Alekseyeva could not say whether the Moscow Helsinki Group and other NGOs will continue receiving Western grants. “We currently don’t know. They are not pressuring just us, they are pressuring funds as well. We are used to it and we can deal with this pressure, but the question is can the funds deal with it? Some organizations will continue receiving grants, and some will stop,” she said.

Prosecutors, Justice Ministry officials, and tax service officials began inspections of human rights organization in March.

A law requiring NGOs receiving foreign funding to get registered as “foreign agents” officially took effect in Russia on November 21, 2012. On March 25, the Justice Ministry press service said mass inspections of NGOs were aimed at uncovering “foreign agents.”