NEWSWATCH: “Russia Makes U-Turn After Evicting Amnesty From Moscow Office” – Reuters

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

… Amnesty International can return to the Moscow office it was evicted from this week, a Kremlin human rights adviser said on Thursday …. Amnesty has been a vocal critic of Russia over its bombing campaign in Syria and had said it believed the eviction might be part of an official crackdown on civil society groups. … Kremlin officials have […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club (complete text)

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

(Kremlin.ru – October 27, 2016) Vladimir Putin took part in the final session of the Valdai International Discussion Club’s 13th annual meeting, which this year took the theme The Future in Progress: Shaping the World of Tomorrow. Over the three-day event, 130 experts and political analysts from 35 countries examined current issues concerning development of international relations, internal political organisation, […]

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New Cold War Chills Annual Kremlin Gathering of Foreign Experts

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Marc Champion – October 26, 2016) The new Cold War is starting to look a lot like the old one, and Russian and U.S. foreign-policy experts at an annual gathering with Kremlin officials this week appear out of ideas on how to even start defusing it. The risk that the world’s two nuclear superpowers might “sleepwalk” […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Russia seeks to shape global political debates with new award”

Valdai Club Gathering at Long Tables in Large Hall

“Russia seeks to gain more voice in shaping global political debates amidst increasingly partisan rhetoric on international politics with a newly announced award by the Valdai Discussion Club.”

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Russians May Care Far Less about Foreign Agent Designations than Kremlin Thinks

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 8, 2016) Vladimir Putin clearly expects that Russians will be put off by and avoid any organization his regime designates as “a foreign agent” because it receives money from abroad. But the experience of the Levada Center, one of the institutions he has classed in this way, suggests that the epithet […]

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Russian Memorial NGO receives “undesirable” funds – ministry

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Interfax – October 5, 2016) Russian human rights NGO Memorial has received funds from foreign organisations officially designated as “undesirable”, the Russian Justice Ministry press service has said, as quoted by privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax on 5 October. On the previous day, the ministry included Memorial on the list of “foreign agents” under controversial 2012 amendments to the law […]

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Russian Justice Ministry to consider Anti-Maidan leader’s request on checking several NGOs for foreign financing

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

MOSCOW. Aug 20 (Interfax) – The Russian Justice Ministry will consider an appeal by Federation Council member Dmitry Sablin, the founder of the Anti-Maidan movement, on checking a number of non-governmental organizations (NGO) for receiving financing from abroad. “The Russian Justice Ministry has received an appeal from Russian Federation Council member Dmitry Sablin. The appeal will be considered within the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Restoring Old Churches Inspires a New Philanthropy in Russia” – New York Times

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

In a country where the state has traditionally maintained extensive control, private charity is still in relative infancy. Foundations and groups that receive funds from abroad usually must register as foreign actors. Restoring churches is one area where Russians have seized the volunteer spirit, however. Both churches in Tarusa have been restored with a mixture of state, church and private […]

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Russian voting rights groups’ association to analyze results of its U.S. election monitoring

White House

MOSCOW. Aug 4 (Interfax) – An association of Russian nonprofit organizations (NPOs) protecting voting rights, called Civil Control, will participate in monitoring the presidential election in the United States, its members are already monitoring the election campaign remotely, according to Alexander Brod, Civil Control co-chairman and a member of the Russian presidential council for human rights and civil society. “Our […]

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PRESS RELEASE: Jamestown Launches ‘Russia in Decline’ Project

Kremlin and River

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – July 14, 2016) JAMESTOWN LAUNCHES ‘RUSSIA IN DECLINE’ PROJECT The Jamestown Foundation is proud to officially unveil a special project, Russia in Decline, which seeks to shed light on the possible futures facing the Russian Federation based on currently observable trends of a country trapped on a downward trajectory. This project is headed by longtime […]

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Helping Russia’s broken women to get back on their feet

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

Dozens of crisis centers operate in Russia to help women caught up in desperate situations and left without help from their families. Some of them have nowhere to live, while others are trying to get away from their alcoholic, wife-beating husbands. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG SKRIPNIK, SPECIAL TO RBTH – July 14, 2016) There are three […]

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NEWSWATCH: “In the ‘lungs of Moscow’ forest, Russia’s civil activists make their mark; Runaway housing developments have been going up around Moscow, threatening the ‘lungs’ of the city – the ring forest around the capital. But locals have been fighting back against the project – with success.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

A diverse band of urban activists, communicating largely through social media, are combating plans to build an enormous high-rise housing development amid the forested ring around the capital  …. The protesters who make up the Mortongrad Nyet! coalition have no shared ideology, and certainly aren’t interested in criticizing the Kremlin. Yet they are redefining the limits of Russian civil society […]

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Russian Artist Pavlensky Stripped of Award Over Support for Police Killers

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ed Crowther – July 8, 2016) The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has stripped radical political performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky of the Vaslav Havel prize, awarded to him in May, the Dozhd news website reported Friday. The decision was a result of Pavlensky’s support for the Primorye Partisans, a group recognized as a criminal organization by […]

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Grant policy should counterbalance ‘foreign agents’ – Russian human rights ombudsman

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. June 9 (Interfax) – Russian human rights ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova called for the streamlining of grant policies in Russia to support socially-oriented organizations. “[It is necessary] to change or improve grant policies, it is significantly important for counterbalancing these developments which resulted in so-called ‘foreign agents’,” she said at an Open Tribune meeting on issues of civil society development […]

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Five Foreign Organizations Declared ‘Undesirable’ in Russia This Year

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 9, 2016) Five foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been labelled “undesirable” by the Kremlin in the past year, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Wednesday. Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika told the State Duma that investigations into the NGOs are continuing with the help of the Foreign Ministry. The investigations seek to establish if the NGOs […]

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Russian Charities to Be Exempt From ‘Foreign Agent’ Label

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 18, 2016) Charities are no longer to be classified as “foreign agents” if they receive money from abroad, according to a new amendment approved by the Russian State Duma. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in areas such as art and culture will also be exempt from the “foreign agent” label, the Interfax news agency reported […]

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‘All Its Members Faced Jail’: Alekseyeva Recalls Birth Of Russia’s Oldest Rights Group

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg, Yelena Polyakovskaya – May 12, 2016) Few activists today can speak firsthand about the creation of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia’s oldest operating human rights organization, 40 years ago. Lyudmila Alekseyeva is one of them. At 88, she is Russia’s best-known human rights activist and among the last Soviet-era dissidents still active in the […]

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Why are Russia’s journalists so prone to conspiracy theory?

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The popularity of conspiracy theory in Russia today isn’t about cultural mindsets. It’s about media ethics. (openedemocracy.net – Ilya Yablokov – May 9, 2016) Ilya Yablokov teaches Russian politics, history and media at the University of Leeds. His research interests include conspiracy theories, nation building and politics in post-Soviet Russia, the history of post-Soviet journalism and international broadcasting. His article […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Long Arm of Russian ‘Soft’ Power” – Atlantic Council/Orysia Lutsevych

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

Anxious about losing ground to Western influence in the post-Soviet space and the ousting of pro-Russia elites by popular electoral uprisings in the early 2000s, the Kremlin has developed a range of proxy groups in support of its foreign policy. This network of pro-Kremlin groups promotes the Russian World (Russkiy Mir), a flexible tool that justifies increasing Russian actions in […]

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“Johnson’s Russia List Want Ad” – The JRL Needs Your Support

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

Dear JRL recipient, I want and need your support. It’s obvious. Johnson’s Russia List is needed more than ever these days. No further elaboration or exhortation is required. Please do also check out the fabulous and lively JRL archive at russialist.org $50 is the normal annual contribution. Business-users should contribute more. A minimum contribution of $25 is suggested. HOW TO […]

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NEWSLINK Newsweek.com/Ben Nimmo: “PUTIN’S PARANOIA IS DRIVING HIS FOREIGN ADVENTURES”

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Russia May Label Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation ‘Foreign Agent’

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – March 16, 2016) The All-Russian Interethnic Union of Youth has filed a request with the Russian Justice Ministry that they add the Anti-Corruption Foundation NGO – headed by the oppositioner Alexei Navalny – to its list of “foreign agents.” The group also requested that the Prosecutor General’s Office investigate Navalny for inciting […]

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VIDEO & ARTICLE: “The Masters Of Nothing”

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – March 11, 2016) Is it real or is it parody? Chechnya’s human rights ombudsman said a group of journalists and human rights activists brutally assaulted en route from Ingushetia this week may have staged the attack themselves. Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Skating Union said that the reason Russian […]

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Hooliganism case opened after attack on journalists and rights activists on Ingush-Chechen border

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

MOSCOW. March 10 (Interfax) – A criminal investigation has been opened after unknown persons attacked a minibus carrying human rights activists and journalists on the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya, in Russia’s North Caucasus, last night, a spokesman for the region’s security services told Interfax. “A criminal case has been launched under Article 167 (deliberate destruction or damage of […]

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Interfax: Number of inspections of NGOs declining – Justice Minister

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

MOSCOW. March 2 (Interfax) – Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said the number of inspections of non-government organizations (NGOs) scheduled for this year is declining. “When organizing inspections of NGOs, the Justice Ministry uses information received from other public administration agencies, and it has to be said that the total number of inspections conducted in 2015 went down 12% from […]

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Russian Duma Introduces Amendment Defining ‘Political Activity’ to NGO Law

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 20, 2016) Representatives of all factions in the State Duma have introduced an amendment to the law on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that specifies the notion of “political activity,” the RBC news agency reported Friday. The draft law, published by the Justice Ministry in January, suggests that operations in a number of spheres including national […]

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Putin’s Pre-emptive Strike: Kremlin Moves to Liquidate ‘Foreign Agents’

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – February 19, 2015) Activist Pavel Chikov could react only with sarcasm when a court handed down a winding up order against his Agora legal advocacy association. “As the first NGO ever to have been liquidated in a Russian court, we are so proud,” he wrote on Twitter. The next day, another organization, […]

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Defender of Putin, Detained in Russia: American Activist Deemed U.S. ‘Agent’

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org –Carl Schreck – February 17, 2016) For a person who has dedicated her life to improving ties between Moscow and the West — and who has passionately denounced what she calls the “demonization” of President Vladimir Putin by Western media and officials — Sharon Tennison has gotten a strange reception in Russia. Tennison, an American activist whose […]

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A law beyond improvement; Defining “political activity” may seem like an academic exercise, but in Russia, it is an existential one.

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

Defining “political activity” may seem like an academic exercise, but in Russia, it is an existential one. (opendemocracy.net – Tanya Lokshina – February 8, 2016) Tanya Lokshina is Russia program director at Human Rights Watch. In May 2013, as Russia was craving positive international publicity before the Sochi Olympic Games, the secretary general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, […]

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As Ruble Nosedives, Russians Are Priced Out Of Live-Saving Western Treatment

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg – February 1, 2016) As the ruble continues its catastrophic tumble, hitting another historic low last month, the pain is being felt keenly across Russia. Among those worst hit are patients in need of urgent surgery abroad or other life-saving treatment billed in foreign currencies. “It all started with a bad cough and a […]

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Russian Justice Ministry suggests determining NGOs’ political activity by participation in public actions and influence over state authorities’ work

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

MOSCOW. Jan 22 (Interfax) – The Russian Justice Ministry has drafted amendments to the country’s law on non-governmental organizations (NGO) that explain the notion of NGOs’ political activity. “The bill proposes determining that political activity can be conducted only through organizing and holding public actions in the form of assemblies, rallies, demonstrations, processions and pickets, or different combinations of these […]

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Grounds For (A Little) Optimism? Russian public opinion on human rights

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

Despite Putin’s clampdown on Russian civil society, public opinion trends point to growing support for civil liberties. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on public opinion and human rights. (opendemocracy.net – Theodore P. Gerber – January 18, 2016) Theodore P. Gerber is the Director of the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia and Professor of Sociology at the […]

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Russian Culture Minister Says Burning Books ‘Completely Unacceptable’

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 15, 2016) Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has denounced an incident in which 53 publications funded by the George Soros Foundation were reportedly incinerated in northern Russia’s Komi region. Medinsky told the Meduza news portal on Thursday that the burning of books and the destruction of monuments, is “completely unacceptable” because it “looks terrible […]

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Orthodox Church Receives Majority of Russian Government Grants

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Cathedral with Man in Religious Garb in Foreground

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 21, 2015) The Orthodox Church has been the biggest beneficiary of presidential grants given to non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, in Russia over the past several years, a study published Monday revealed. According to the report prepared by the Center for Economic and Political Reforms, the organizations controlled by the Moscow Patriarchate or close to […]

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We need to find the common ground between climate change and civil society

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

To combat Russia’s industrial polluters, public indifference and limits on NGO activity, we need to link climate change and civil society. Русский (opendemocracy.net – Gleb Paikachev – December 11, 2015) Gleb Paikachev is an activist with the Nature and Youth organisation, Murmansk. Murmansk, a region just shy of the Arctic Circle, has its share of both global and local ecological […]

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NEWSWATCH Deutsche Welle: “Activists or Kremlin agents – who protects Russian-speakers in the Baltics? Moscow has been financing Russian-language NGOs in the Baltic states for years. Security authorities there are suspicious of the organizations, but the NGOs deny there is any cause for concern.”

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Deutsche Welle covers Russian government financing of NGO activity in the Baltics. Authorities have long had these NGOs in their sights. In its annual report, Latvian police stated that the Russia-backed organizations are tasked with the distribution of “biased and distorted information” on domestic procedures in Latvia. According to Estonian and Latvian authorities, the violation of the rights of Russian […]

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NGO U.S. Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and Rule of Law recognized as undesirable in Russia

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

MOSCOW. Dec 4 (Interfax) – The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has recognized a non-governmental organization (NGO) from the United States – the U.S. Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (USRF) – as an undesirable organization in Russian territory, Prosecutor General’s Office spokesperson Marina Gridneva told Interfax on Friday. “The president of the foundation is a U.S. […]

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Soros Foundation recognized as undesirable in Russia

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Interfax – November 30, 2015) The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has recognized undesirable several foreign non-profit organizations, such as the Open Society Foundation and the Assistance Foundation in Russia. “This decision was taken, following an address by the Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly to the Russian general prosecutor, foreign minister and justice minister to inspect the organizations, which […]

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Two Anniversaries, Two Countries – Ukraine’s Maidan at Two, Russia’s Foreign Agents Law at Three

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 22, 2015) Anniversaries are occasions for recalling the past and thinking about the future, and they are especially instructive about both when two or more of them occur at the same time. That is the case this weekend when Ukrainians mark the second anniversary of the Maidan and Russians take note […]

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Russian Justice Ministry Report on NGO Memorial Heads to Court

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Joanna Kozlowska – November 21, 2015) The Justice Ministry report accusing the rights group Memorial of “undermining the constitutional order and calling for the overthrow of the Russian government,” following the ministry’s inspection of the NGO’s activities and dated Oct. 30, has been sent to a magistrates’ court in Moscow’s Tverskoy district, the RIA Novosti […]

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Recommendations for additions to the Russia expert media outlet mix

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Subject: Reaction to a piece in #217/Top Russian Media Date: Wed, 11 Nov 2015 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> Recommendations for additions to the Russia expert media outlet mix: Response to JRL #217, Russia Direct’s “Top 10 Russian media any Kremlin watcher needs to know” Uliana Malashenko’s “special round-up of the most influential and interesting media outlets that provide insights into […]

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Russian Justice Ministry Accuses Memorial Of Calling For Regime Change

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – RFE/RL’s Russian Service – November 10, 2015) Russia’s Justice Ministry has accused the prominent nongovernmental organization Memorial of “undermining the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation” and of calling for “a change of political regime” in the country. The ministry sent the Memorial Human Rights Center notification of the accusations on November 9 […]

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New Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia

Chicago Skyline

Subject: New Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia Date: Tue, 3 Nov 2015 From: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace <chogan@carnegieendowment.org> Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Chicago Council on Global Affairs Launch Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia Former Deputy Secretary of State and U.S. Senator to Co-Chair Bipartisan Effort WASHINGTON-The Carnegie […]

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Russian Justice Ministry Proposes Further Checks to ‘Foreign Agent’ NGOs

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov, Eva Hartog – October 29, 2015) The Justice Ministry has proposed legal amendments that would set a procedure for the government to shut down nongovernmental organizations deemed “foreign agents,” state-run news agency TASS reported. The bill would require NGOs designated as “foreign agents” to supply the Justice Ministry with thorough accounts of their […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: Inside the Kremlin’s velvet grip, Russia’s civil society struggles to survive. Workers at Memorial, Russia’s leading human rights monitor, live under constant, unyielding pressure from the government, which is trying to stymie dissent.

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Putin to attend Valdai Club’s final plenary session on October 22

Valdai Club Gathering at Long Tables in Large Hall

MOSCOW. Oct 21 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday will attend the final plenary session of the twelfth annual session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi, the Kremlin has said. The topic of this year’s Valdai conference is “Societies Between War and Peace: Overcoming the Logic of Conflict in Tomorrow’s World,” the Kremlin press office said. […]

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Russian Branch of Ecology NGO Bellona Closes Over ‘Foreign Agent’ Status

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 14, 2015) Bellona Murmansk, a Russian branch of the Norwegian environmental organization, has closed down but hopes to re-establish itself soon in a new legal form, the NGO said on its website this week. “Bellona Murmansk will continue its work under a different kind of bureaucratic structure that will free it from the yoke […]

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Justice Ministry Wipes 10 NGOs Off ‘Foreign Agents’ List

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 13, 2015) Russia’s Justice Ministry has deleted 10 NGOs from the list of “foreign agents,” the Gazeta.ru news website reported Monday. Four of them were excluded from the list because they “stopped performing the functions of a foreign agent,” while the other six were removed because they had closed down for good. The report […]

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Justice Ministry Refuses to Remove Elections Monitor Golos from ‘Foreign Agents’ List

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 8, 2015) Russia’s Justice Ministry has refused to exclude independent elections watchdog Golos from the list of “foreign agents,” the Vedomosti newspaper reported Wednesday. Golos said on Twitter back in July that the ministry had begun the process of removing it from the list. Ruling that its inclusion was an “error,” the ministry also […]

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