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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Russian Charities to Be Exempt From ‘Foreign Agent’ Label

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(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

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

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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

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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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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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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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NEWSLINK: “How a liberal bastion is persevering in an increasingly illiberal Moscow. The Andrei Sakharov Center, one of the last safe spaces for Russia’s liberal community, has been fined and fined again for its purported ‘political activity.’ But celebrity support and crowdsourcing have kept it alive.” – Christian Science Monitor

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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

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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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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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Russia’s Supreme Court overturns ruling to fine “foreign agent” NGO

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

(Interfax – December 7, 2015) The Russian Supreme Court has revoked a ruling to fine a St Petersburg-based NGO, Institute of Regional Press, over its refusal to be labelled a “foreign agent”, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 7 December. “The judges failed to find formal components of the crime in the actions of the rights activists. It is […]

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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

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(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

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(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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Russia’s Sole Sexual Assault Center Struggles to Make Ends Meet

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Vasily Kolotilov – October 21, 2015) Russia has only one organization that exists specifically to help victims of sexual assault, and today, its fate hangs in the balance. The Sisters sexual assault recovery center in Moscow is eking out an existence, depending on modest donations and barely able to cover the rent and phone bill […]

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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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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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Putin urges Russian businessmen to support rights NGOs

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – Moscow, October 1, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on businessmen and entrepreneurs to render financial support to Russian human rights non-commercial organizations. “I fully and completely join the call and believe that we all together and I personally must urge, here, right now, I’m urging our citizens, all our business structures to render support to non-commercial […]

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Putin Promises to Rewrite ‘Foreign Agents’ Law

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – October 2, 2015) President Vladimir Putin met with the presidential Human Rights Council on Thursday and promised to rewrite the so-called “foreign agents” law requiring that all NGOs which receive funding from abroad and are engaged in political activity to register as “foreign agents,” a term widely associated in Russia with espionage, […]

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Russia’s Regional Elections Marred by Pressure on Observers, Fraud

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – September 14, 2015) Multiple violations were registered by independent elections watchdogs during Sunday’s regional elections across Russia, and in the most drastic development, the office of an observers’ organization was raided by police who said they had reason to believe it was a murder scene. The Central Elections Commission (CEC) said it […]

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Interfax: Eighty-Eight NGOs registered as ‘foreign agents’ in two years, seven of them did it voluntarily – Justice Ministry

(Interfax – September 1, 2015) Less than 10 percent of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) recognized as ‘foreign agents’ submitted by themselves an application regarding their status during the two years that the respective law has been in force, according to Dmitry Yermak, the acting director of the NGO department at the Russian Ministry of Justice. “Altogether, 88 organizations have been included […]

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Turning Opinions of Disability Upside Down

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jordan Reed – August 25, 2015) This weekend the charitable organization Downside Up, which helps children with Down syndrome and their families, raised money and awareness for the cause with a cycling event through Moscow and Kaluga region. The 20th event of its kind saw 100 participants cycle 100km in Kaluga region on Saturday and […]

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Russia’s ‘Foreign Agents’ Risk Losing Right to Run Media

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – August 21, 2015) As the crackdown on Russian NGOs continues, the Communications Ministry has suggested forbidding those labeled as “foreign agents” from launching and registering media outlets. The proposal, part of a bill that the ministry published on a government website for draft laws, stipulates that non-governmental organizations registered as “foreign agents” […]

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Re: Think Tanks and U.S.-Russian Confrontation

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Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2015 1 From: Robert Legvold <rhl1@columbia.edu> Subject: re think tanks and US-Russian confrontation [Robert Legvold is Marshall D. Shulman Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University, where he specialized in the international relations of the post-Soviet states. He was Director of The Harriman Institute, Columbia University, from 1986 to 1992. Prior to […]

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Georgy Satarov: ‘The Opposition Needs to Put the Authorities in Zugzwang’

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

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – August 12, 2015) As part of the Institute of Modern Russia’s ongoing interview series with Russian and Western experts, imrussia.org editor-in-chief Olga Khvostunova sat down with INDEM Foundation president Georgy Satarov to talk about social discontent, the consequences of the law on ”undesirable organizations,” the principle of simplification in Putin’s politics, and the […]

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Kremlin Forms NGO Expert Group

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 11, 2015) The Kremlin has announced the creation of an expert group to consider changes to a controversial law that labels NGOs receiving funding from abroad as “foreign agents,” the RBC news agency reported Monday, citing deputy presidential chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin. The group will work within the presidential administration and will consist […]

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‘Is your mum a foreign agent?’

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

Russian NGOs, large and small, are facing closure after the blacklisting of their foreign funders. Colta.ru speaks to some of the organisations affected. (opendemocracy.net/Colta.ru – EKATERINA SELIVANOVA, NADEZHDA KONOBEYEVSKAYA, and YAKOV KAPITONOV – August 11, 2015) Ekaterina Selivanova is a Moscow-based journalist. She writes for Colta.ru and The New Times. Nadezhda Konobeyevskaya is an independent journalist, and writes for Novaya […]

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Human rights activists fear Soros Foundation to leave Russia

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – August 3, 2015) The Soros Foundation could follow the MacArthur Foundation and National Endowment for Democracy and leave Russia, veteran of the human rights movement and head of the Civil Assistance committee Svetlana Gannushkina said. “I am afraid that the Soros Foundation is leaving Russia,” she said. According to Gannushkina, the probability exists that the Soros Foundation will […]

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Re: Restrictions on Foreign Orgs in the U.S.

U.S. Supreme Court Facade

Subject: Re restrictions on foreign orgs in the U.S. Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:09:46 -0400 From: Thomas M. Callahan <tom.callahan@yandex.com> There has long been an American statute in place regulating the work of organizations working “in the interests” of foreign powers on American soil. However, it is quite short and, anyway, is a single provision compared to Russia’s extensive […]

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Putin Hurts a Think Tank by Not Banning It

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – July 28, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin is nothing if not cunning when it comes to dealing with his adversaries. When he signed a law allowing the government to ban any nongovernmental organization deemed “undesirable,” it was clear some foreign NGOs would suffer. What was less obvious — though, in hindsight, inevitable — […]

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Interfax: Kremlin: Prohibition of NGOs’ operations in Russia does not mean restriction of access to democratic values

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – July 29, 2015) The inclusion of one or several non-governmental organizations (NGO) in a list of those whose operations on Russian territory are undesirable does not restrict access of Russian citizens to democratic values, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “It would be absolutely wrong to say that, with the prohibition of this or that organization, Russian citizens would […]

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U.S. embassy in Moscow concerned about NED’s designation as ‘undesirable organization’ in Russia

File Photo of U.S. Embassy Moscow, with Russian Foreign Ministry Building in Distance

(Interfax – July 28, 2015) The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is concerned about the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office’s decision to designate the U.S. nonprofit organization National Endowment for Democracy (NED) an undesirable foreign organization in Russian territory. “We are deeply concerned about the effect of the so-called law on undesirable organizations,” U.S. embassy spokesperson Will Stevens told Interfax when asked […]

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Russian human rights activists lodge appeals against law on “foreign agent” NGOs

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

(Interfax – July 22, 2015) A number of Russian human rights advocacy organizations have lodged court appeals against their classification as “foreign agents”, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 22 July. Earlier the Russian Justice Ministry released a statement saying it had sent messages to a number of NGOs working in the human rights sector and included on the […]

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Russian Election Monitoring NGO Golos Removed from Foreign Agents List

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – July 23, 2015) The Justice Ministry is revoking the registration of election-monitoring group Golos as a “foreign agent” and has refunded the fines the non-governmental organization has paid for refusing to register voluntarily, the group said. In a surprise announcement that followed searches at the organization’s offices and its employees’ homes earlier […]

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MacArthur Foundation to close office in Russia over restrictive new laws

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Anna Sorokina, RBTH, combined report – July 22, 2015) The U.S.-based MacArthur Foundation has announced that it is to cease its work in Russia in connection with new legislation that seeks to limit the activities of foreign organizations seen as a threat to national security. The MacArthur NGO, which receives no funding from […]

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