Category Archives: Nonprofits, Activists, NGO’s

Consumer-Rights Advocate Calls Putin ‘Paranoid’ After ‘Foreign-Agent’ Slur

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, June 24, 2015) A Russian consumer-protection group lambasted by President Vladimir Putin as a “foreign agent” after giving cautionary advice to Russians traveling to annexed Crimea has accused Putin of “paranoia” and called him “badly informed.” Mikhail Anshakov, chairman of the Moscow-based Society for the Protection of Consumer Rights (OZPP), said his […]

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Interfax: Chechen leader on Nemtsov murder, investments, oil, Ukraine, marriage

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Interfax – June 18, 2015) The Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has suggested that the murderers of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov should be sought in Ukraine, rather than in Chechnya. He praised his region’s economic potential and oil reserves. Kadyrov also slammed Committee Against Torture Russian human rights organization, accusing them of following the West’s guidelines to Russia’s detriment. […]

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Beleaguered Russian Science Foundation Dynasty Delays Decision on Closure

File Photo of Test Tubes with Algae Displaying Different Colors, Part of U.S. Energy-Related Research; from nrel.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – June 9, 2015) Beleaguered science organization the Dynasty Foundation, which has been grappling in recent days with whether or not to shut its doors, announced that a decision on the matter will be delayed to provide time to wrap up ongoing projects, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Monday. Following its inclusion on […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: For fear of ‘foreign agents,’ Kremlin blacklists a Russian charity

St. Basil's Domes

Dynasty, which promotes scientific education, is funded almost entirely by Russian communications tycoon Dmitry Zimin. Because he’s using offshore accounts to do so, he’s run afoul of Kremlin bureaucrats. Critics say it’s time for a rethink.

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Russian Constitutional Court says election monitor not “foreign agent”

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Interfax – May 27, 2015) Russia’s Constitutional Court has again stated that a non-governmental organization (NGO) does not have to declare itself as a “foreign agent” if it has not used funds sent to its accounts from foreign sources, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 27 May. The court made the statement, published on its website, in response to […]

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Rights Groups Condemn ‘Dangerous’ Russian Undesirables Law

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

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 26, 2015) Rights groups named as potential targets of a new law allowing the government to brand international organizations “undesirable” and shutter their Russia operations have criticized the legislation, calling it a “dangerous” new weapon in a Kremlin campaign to suppress civil society. Activists expressed concern on May 26 that the […]

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Russia agrees to remove some NGOs from its “foreign agents” register

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

(Interfax – May 25, 2015) Three nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have become the first to be taken off the Russian government’s register of “foreign agents” after changes to the law made their removal possible, Interfax news agency reported on 25 May. In autumn 2014 an NGO in St Petersburg complained that it could not get itself off the register because there […]

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Dmitry Zimin plans to stop financing Dynasty Foundation

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

(Interfax – May 26, 2015) Founder of Russia’s non-profit Dynasty Foundation Dmitry Zimin has announced plans to stop providing money to the organization after it was assigned ‘foreign agent’ status by the Russian authorities. “Certainly, I will not spend my own money acting under the trademark of some unknown foreign state. I will stop funding Dynasty,” Zimin told Interfax on […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Legally silencing Russia’s undesirables

Russian State Duma Building file photo

Russia has just taken another step toward pernicious use of the law to buttress the authoritarian whims of its leader. Both houses of parliament recently passed legislation that would allow the government to label as “undesirable” — in effect, to outlaw — any foreign or international organizations deemed a threat to the “defensive capabilities or security of the state, to […]

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Persecuted Russian Lawyer Finds New Ways Around Foreign Agents Label

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sergey Chernov – April 29, 2015) The life of St. Petersburg human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov has changed dramatically in the last 12 months. After his American wife was deported as a “threat to national security” in August, the family moved to Prague, but Pavlov returns regularly to lead high-profile cases and manage a group […]

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As Crisis Mounts, Russians Open Up Their Pocketbooks to Charities

Russia Regions Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – April 22, 2015) Even as Russia’s economic crisis sees corporate donations decline dramatically, charitable organization are seeing more and more ordinary Russians step up to the plate. “The number of donations from big companies has fallen considerably since the beginning of last year,” said Victoria Agadzhanova, the executive director of charitable foundation […]

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Russia Needs a Civil Society But Not a Liberal One, Rostov Analysts Argue

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 21, 2015) The West and Russia’s liberal intelligentsia equate civil society with the liberal opposition, but this is a serious error, two Russian analysts say. Instead, civil society need not be an opponent of the authorities but “yet another ‘branch of power’” that can take on itself things that “other branches for […]

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NEWSLINK Carnegie Moscow: Corrupting Civil Society in Post- Maidan Ukraine?

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Ukrainian civil society has become something of a paradox over the past year. Following former President Yanukovych’s ouster in February of 2014, civil society organizations successfully guided the country through a difficult transfer of power. From February to April 2014, it was the Maidan self-defense groups that fought back separatist uprisings and a Russian-backed invasion, and maintained order in Ukrainian […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Closing the doors on a museum of political repression in Russia

St. Basil's Domes

The only museum of political repression set in an old Stalinist labor camp has closed, the latest casualty of the Russian government’s effort to silence independent voices. After a three-year struggle with the government of the Perm region, in the western foothills of the Ural Mountains, the nongovernmental organization that operated the museum, known officially as the Memorial Historical Center […]

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Russia Beyond the Headlines: New law will allow NGOs to lose ‘foreign agent’ tag – on certain conditions

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – March 3, 2015) Non-governmental organizations that were forced to register as “foreign agents” under controversial legislation will soon be able to lift that status – but only if they meet certain conditions that some NGOs say are unrealistic. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court has taken action to free NGOs from […]

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Interfax: Putin proposes bill on removing NGOs from foreign-agents list

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, Feb 4, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed a bill on how to remove nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from the register of foreign agents. The bill has been registered in the lower house’s electronic database. Under the federal laws concerning public associations and NGOs functioning as a foreign agent, public associations which are legal entities and other […]

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Victory for Memorial in court ruling but survival battle is only half-won

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Timofeichev, RBTH – February 3, 2015) Russia’s Supreme Court has thrown out a lawsuit filed by the Justice Ministry against the country’s oldest human rights organization Memorial, seeking its closure. However, despite the court’s decision, the ministry has refused to abandon the lawsuit and is now pursuing legal action against Memorial’s international […]

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Russia Civil Society will Grow like ‘Blade of Grass through Concrete,’ Gontmakher Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 13, 2015) Yevgeny Gontmakher, a prominent Moscow economist and commentator, has invoked one of the most powerful images available about the ways in which the human spirit can overcome ever the harshest and most repressive regimes: “like a blade of grass breaking through concrete.” As anyone who has been on a […]

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Russian NGOs need to rethink their strategy

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Andrei Jvirblis – December 10, 2014) Russia’s voluntary sector, faced with growing government interference, needs to be more open about its aims and operations if it wants more public support. Opinion polls show a long-term decline in public trust in the Russian voluntary sector, which has become less open about its operations, in fear of media attacks. This […]

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Justice Ministry Adds Moscow School to List of ‘Foreign Agents’

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 11, 2014) Russia’s Justice Ministry has added a Moscow school to the federal register of “foreign agents,” a move that the school’s founders decried as “baseless,” and vowed to fight in court. The Moscow School of Civic Education has become the 18th nongovernmental organization to wind up on the controversial list, which sees nonprofit […]

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‘Foreign Agent’ NGOs Won’t Be Allowed to Monitor Russian Elections

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – December 8, 2014) Russia’s Justice Ministry has worked out a procedure that would allow non-governmental organizations to remove themselves from the federal register of “foreign agents” if they appeal the move and pass a snap inspection, RIA Novosti reported Monday. The move comes days after President Vladimir Putin conceded that there were […]

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Don’t speak, memory: Voice against Stalin’s crimes may soon be silenced

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Oleg Yegorov, special to RBTH – November 21, 2014) Russia’s supreme court is preparing to examine the lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Justice requesting to liquidate Memorial, Russia’s first organization dedicated to preserving the memory of Stalin’s repressions and victims. RBTH reports on who else is telling the truth about the past […]

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Interfax: Russian Justice Ministry withdraws claims against embattled NGOs

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Interfax – Moscow, November 19, 2014) The Russian Justice Ministry has withdrawn claims against two foreign agent non-commercial organizations over their reports on foreign financing; only the non-commercial organization Soldiers’ Mothers of St Petersburg will be held responsible for not presenting its report, the ministry’s press service has reported. “The Russian Ministry of Justice had notified the Freedom of Information […]

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Interfax: Putin backs proposal to devise procedure for NGOs’ removal from foreign agents register

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – November 17, 2014) President Vladimir Putin has backed Human Rights Commissioner Ella Pamfilova’s proposal to devise a procedure of removing nongovernmental organizations from the register of foreign agents after their foreign funding ends. Pamfilova told Putin that the Justice Ministry cannot remove NGOs, no longer financed from abroad, from the foreign agents register in the absence of a […]

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List of ‘foreign agents’ grows thanks to Justice Ministry

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Galiya Ibragimova, RBTH – October 21, 2014) Since Russia’s Justice Ministry received the right to declare organizations “foreign agents” without their consent, the number of NGOs on the list has grown substantially In the two years since the passage of Russia’s controversial law on NGOs in July 2012, human rights and research organizations […]

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Five Important Things That Memorial’s Done (And Is Still Doing) For Russia

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – October 13, 2014 – Daisy Sindelar) Russia’s Justice Ministry has asked the country’s Supreme Court to liquidate Memorial, the country’s oldest and best-known human rights organization, which groups together more than 50 bodies nationwide. Founded in 1989 under the auspices of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, Memorial has led efforts to uncover communist-era repressions and fight discrimination […]

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Justice Ministry Moves to Liquidate Renowned Human Rights Group Memorial

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – October 13, 2014) Russia’s Justice Ministry has filed a claim with the Supreme Court seeking the liquidation of the Russian Memorial Society, an independent human rights group. Critics say the move exemplifies the Kremlin’s ongoing stifling of non-governmental organizations. The Russian Memorial Society, which was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by […]

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Bill Proposes Softening NGO ‘Foreign Agent’ Law

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 9, 2014) A legislative commission has approved a bill reducing fines for non-governmental organizations that fail to register with the Justice Ministry as so-called “foreign agents,” the government said in a statement Wednesday. The bill, conceived after the Ministry received complaints from the country’s human rights commissioner, proposes halving the minimum penalty for officials […]

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Oldest Russian NGO facing financial troubles – head

Lyudmila Alekseyeva file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, September 28, 2014) The oldest Russian noncommercial organization [the usual Russian phrase for what is referred to elsewhere as NGOs], the Moscow Helsinki Group, had to scrap the majority of its human rights projects due to a shortage of funds, Moscow Helsinki Group head Lyudmila Alekseyeva told Interfax on Monday [28 September]. “We have limited our activities. […]

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Russia’s Golos Has ‘Foreign Agent’ Status Removed

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – September 08, 2014) The head of the independent Russian electoral rights group Golos (Voice) says a Moscow city court has overturned a decision that the organization had to be registered as a “foreign agent” with authorities. Grigori Melkonyants said the court accepted the appeal of Russian Human Rights Commissioner Ella Pamfilova, who asked the Moscow court to review […]

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Justice Ministry Adds Nuclear Research Center to ‘Foreign Agents’ List

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 4, 2014) Russia’s Justice Ministry added a Moscow-based think tank that specializes in nuclear arms research to its controversial list of “foreign agents” on Wednesday. The designation means that the PIR Center, founded in 1994, has been found to receive funding from abroad and to conduct political activities, thus meeting two criteria that require […]

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Russian Human Rights Council Attempts to Scrap Fines for ‘Foreign Agent’ NGOs

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 3, 2014) The Presidential Human Rights Council has prepared amendments to a controversial law that would stop nongovernmental organizations being fined for failing to register as “foreign agents,” Kommersant reported Tuesday. A law introduced by the government in 2012 requires NGOs that receive funding from abroad and are engaged in loosely defined political activity […]

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Russian NGOs Working to Fight AIDS Not ‘Foreign Agents’

HIV Infection Microscopic Photo of Cells

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – August 15, 2014) Non-governmental organizations working to fight HIV/AIDS in Russia will not be required to register as foreign agents if they receive funding from abroad, Kommersant reported Friday, citing the results of recent inspections by the Justice Ministry. The inspections, which began in June at the government’s request, covered dozens of […]

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Most Russians Don’t Know a Single NGO

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – August 15, 2014) Most Russians cannot name a single nongovernmental organization, though public support for NGOs in Russia has greatly increased over the past decade, a recent poll shows. More than half of the people questioned by state-run pollster VTsIOM – 59 percent – could not provide an answer when asked to […]

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Putin versus the NGOs

Vladimir Putin file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Pavel Chikov – July 3, 2014) Pavel Chikov is chair of AGORA, an association of human rights organisations based in Kazan. Agora, founded in 2005, provides legal advocacy for victims of suspected human rights abuses, in particular for journalists, political activists and NGOs. Since 1999 Chikov has been a leading human rights lawyer and head of a number […]

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Interfax: Rasmussen’s claim Moscow funds “anti-fracking” environmentalists absurd – Greenpeace

File Photo of Blue Flame from Natural Gas

MOSCOW. June 20 (Interfax) – Greenpeace has rejected a claim made by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen that Russia funds European environmentalists opposing shale gas production in Europe. “Greenpeace sees this suggestion as absurd because the Organization and many other environmental groups are calling for fracking which used in exploiting shale formations, to be banned across the world,” Greenpeace […]

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Justice Ministry Adds Five More Russian NGOs to ‘Foreign Agent’ List

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 10, 2014) Russia’s Justice Ministry has added five nongovernmental organizations to its list of “foreign agents” just days after President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing organizations to labeled as such without their consent. An official statement on the ministry’s website said the decision was made based on “court decisions confirming that the organizations […]

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Interfax: Golos association to contest inclusion on registry of NGOs-foreign agents in court

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

MOSCOW. June 9 (Interfax) – The Golos (Voice) association said it intended to contest in court the fact that the Russian Justice Ministry included it on the registry of non-governmental organizations (NGO) – foreign agents. “This will not affect our work in any way. The association is in the process of liquidating itself. As to the regional organization, it has […]

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Interfax: “Foreign agent” NGOs compelled to post regular reports on their activity, expenditures

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

MOSCOW. June 9 (Interfax) – Non-governmental organizations listed as “foreign agents” have been compelled to post regular reports about their activities and expenditures, in particular, in the media, the Russian Justice Ministry press service said. “As soon as the aforementioned organizations are added to the register of “foreign agent” NGOs, they become subject to relevant provisions of the Federal Law […]

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NGOs in Russia Could be Labeled ‘Foreign Agents’ Without Their Consent

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 5, 2014) President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing the Justice Ministry to register nongovernmental organizations as “foreign agents” without their consent, Interfax reported Wednesday. A law that entered into force in 2012 required all NGOs engaged in “political activity” to formally register as “foreign agents.” The designation itself carries strong, negative associations with […]

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Russian upper house approves tougher “foreign agent” NGO law

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – Moscow, May 28, 2014) The Federation Council [Russia’s upper chamber of parliament] has approved a draft law giving the Justice Ministry authority to include a noncommercial organization [the usual Russian phrase for what is referred to elsewhere as NGOs] on the register of foreign agents, even if that same NGO has not applied for inclusion on the register. […]

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24 NGOs in Russia Labeled as Foreign Agents in 2013

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – April 29, 2014) The Prosecutor General’s Office said it identified 24 nongovernmental organizations as “foreign agents” last year, in line with a law that rights groups say is intended to limit dissent in Russia. In particular, a report by Prosecutor General Yury Chaika singled out human rights group Public Verdict Foundation for […]

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Interfax: UK, US embassies interfered in Russian affairs by funding NGOs – top prosecutor

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – April 28, 2014) Six foreign embassies, including those of Britain and the USA, interfered in Russia’s internal affairs by funding NGOs in the country, Prosecutor-General Yuriy Chayka said in his report on the state of law and order in Russia, according to privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax on 28 April. “The study of sources of foreign funding of […]

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Russian civil society and the law

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(opendemocracy.net – Louise Hallman – April 22, 2014) Louise Hallman is the Editor at Salzburg Global Seminar, an independent non-profit organization based in Salzburg, Austria with a mission to challenge current and future leaders to solve issues of global concern Russia’s foreign agents law caused a great deal of controversy when it was introduced late last year. But the woes […]

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Building bridges in Russian civil society

File Photo of Russian Volunteer Effort, With Group of People Outdoors with Boxes

(opendemocracy.net – Louise Hallman – April 21, 2014) Louise Hallman is the Editor at Salzburg Global Seminar, an independent non-profit organization based in Salzburg, Austria with a mission to challenge current and future leaders to solve issues of global concern. Direct aid givers, civic activists, and political activists spend as much time arguing amongst themselves as they do building civil […]

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Russian civil society is a 25-year-old work in progress

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

(opendemocracy.net – Sarah Lindemann-Komarova – April 21, 2014) A summary of the results of the recent Salzburg Global Seminar ‘Russian Civil Society Symposium: Building Bridges to the Future’ is simple: no easy answers, more questions. But that does not mean it was a failure. [Chart here http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/sarah-lindemannkomarova/russian-civil-society-is-25yearold-work-in-progress] A summary of the results of the recent Salzburg Global Seminar ‘Russian Civil […]

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U.S. Education NGO American Councils Ordered to Cease Operations

File Photo of U.S. Diplomat Teaching Class to Russian Students

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – April 11, 2014) The Justice Ministry has ordered the Russian branch of American Councils, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that administers student exchanges and other educational programs, to cease its operations indefinitely, in what appears to be part of an ongoing crackdown on NGOs funded by the U.S. and other foreign governments. American […]

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Human Rights Group to Close Over ‘Foreign Agent’ Label

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – April 10, 2014) The Constitutional Court has upheld the controversial law requiring some nongovernmental organizations with foreign funding to register as “foreign agents,” while an affiliate of the prominent Memorial human rights group faces closure after being labeled a foreign agent by a St. Petersburg court. The Kremlin has argued that the […]

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Russian law on NGOs as “foreign agents” ruled constitutional

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

(Interfax – April 8, 2014) The Russian Constitutional Court has ruled that the controversial law that requires all non-government organizations to register as “foreign agents” if they receive funding from abroad and are involved in political activities is constitutional. However, the court said that the provision that lists fines for violating the law is unconstitutional because it says that the […]

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Foreign funding alone not enough to define NGO as foreign agent – judge

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Interfax – April 8, 2014) The mere fact that a nonprofit organization receives foreign funding cannot provide grounds for identifying this organization as a foreign agent, Constitutional Court Judge Sergei Knyazev told reporters on Tuesday. Such an organization will however find itself in the group of foreign agents if it engages in political activities, he said. “The status of foreign […]

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