Russian NGOs received over 30 billion rubles of financing in six months – Prosecutor General

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(Interfax – July 9, 2013) Over 2,000 non-governmental organizations (NGO) operating in Russia received over 30 billion rubles since the new law on NGOs came into effect, Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said.

“Since the law came into effect – since November 2012 until April 2013 – NGOs received generally (…) 30.8 billion rubles,” Chaika told Russian President Vladimir Putin.

NGOs established without the involvement of the Russian government agencies received 24 billion rubles, Chaika said.

The federal law obliging all NGOs receiving foreign grants to register as foreign agents with the Russian Justice Ministry came into effect on November 21, 2012. In March 2013, prosecutor’s offices, the Justice Ministry and tax service started large-scale inspections of Russian NGOs to check whether the law on NGOs was being followed. Russian NGOs, including Memorial, the Moscow Helsinki Group and Golos, said that they would not register as foreign agents.

Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said in June 2012 he did not exclude that the list of NGOs-foreign agents might never have a single register because the law did not stipulate compulsory registration as a foreign agent.

“It is possible to achieve the liquidation of an organization but is impossible to make it do this,” Konovalov said.

It was decided at a governmental meeting on June 17 to amend the law on NGOs in terms of holding unannounced inspections.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said twice that the law on NGOs could be amended – at a meeting with the secretary general of the Council of Europe and at the Civil Platform summit.

President Vladimir Putin has instructed Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to analyze the practice of enforcing the law on nongovernmental organizations and to ensure the would be no errors in rating them as foreign agents.

“Analyze this practice to avoid errors and to see if any organization has been rated as foreign agent, although it does not engage in politics,” Putin told Chaika on Tuesday.

“If the need arises to make adjustments, please formulate your proposals jointly with experts, and then we will discuss them with the State Duma,” he said.

“We need to mark off where pure politics, and inner political or humanitarian activities lie,” Putin said.

“Of course, we need to ensure that the law is enforced and observed by all without exception. All who decide to engage in this particular type of activity must abide by this law,” he said.

Putin instructed Chaika to “continue the monitoring and to react promptly to what is going on in this sphere.”