Sergei Nikitin: Russian authorities set a course to strangle civil society
The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation began to form the register &# 171; unwanted&# 187; NGOs
MOSCOW – The Russian Ministry of Justice has begun filling out the register of “undesirable” foreign and international non-governmental organizations; a special section has already been created for this, Russian media reported on Wednesday, July 8. According to the Izvestia newspaper, the so-called “Patriotic Stop List” drawn up by the Federation Council the day before may become part of the proscription list..
The Federation Council promised to send on Wednesday its list of 12 NGOs to the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office in order to be included in the forbidden register. According to the Russian media, the undesirable candidates from the Federation Council included: Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation), National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, MacArthur Foundation, Freedom House, Charles Stuart Mott Foundation, Foundation Education for Democracy, Eastern European Democratic Center, World Congress of Ukrainians, Ukrainian World Coordination Council, Crimean Field Mission for Human Rights. Seven of these organizations are somehow related to the United States..
The Russian service of “Voice of America” asked the head of the Amnesty International office in the Russian Federation to comment on the situation Sergey Nikitin.
Victor Vasiliev: How do you feel about the initiative of the Federation Council to compile a list of unwanted NPOs?
Sergey Nikitin: The list brought to the public by the Federation Council is further evidence of the direction taken by the Russian authorities in strangling civil society in the country. It is clear that the decision in accordance with the adopted law on unwanted foreign NPOs is made by the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation, and the opinion of the Federation Council does not play a decisive role here. However, it can be assumed that the senators decided to demonstrate their efficiency and speed in identifying the next unwanted “agents”, “spies” and so on. These are all methods from the category of the Cold War. By naming these organizations, the Federation Council actually endangers those Russian non-profit organizations that received and receive funding from any of the listed funds..
This puts the work of civil society at risk. And in general, from now on, any connection between Russian NGOs with any of the foreign partners will be positioned as a kind of signal of unreliability. The general atmosphere that prevails in society and that is created and maintained in the media also does not contribute to the healthy activities of NGOs, creates a misunderstanding among citizens of what public organizations are doing. This activity by the Russian authorities raises concerns that civil society in the country may ultimately be stifled..
V.V .: It is clear to you on what principle such a list was formed?
S.N .: Most of the organizations that are listed on this list are to some extent related to the United States. And it is no secret to anyone that the Russian authorities are very disapproving of this country. We have heard accusations that there are allegedly people among the boards of certain funds who are “involved in the CIA.” This conspiracy theory, as I said, is evidence of an unhealthy approach in Russia to serious and important problems..
V.V .: Such lists may appear regularly?
S.N .: As you know, the decision on this issue is made by the Prosecutor General’s Office (after discussing the details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Therefore, the Federation Council, or individual citizens, or State Duma deputies – in fact, any institution, any person – can make some regular lists that will come into the fevered imagination of this or that character. Therefore, in general, there is no doubt that these lists will grow. I would like to be mistaken, but, probably, we will witness that the majority of organizations that absolutely legally operate on the territory of the Russian Federation will actually be pushed out of the country..