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July 23, 2012 (TSR) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a legislative bill into Russian federal law which will regulate the activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive funding and other resources from foreign sources and engage in political activities. NGOs involve in such activities are now required to register with the Justice Ministry as “foreign agents.”
The bill that sparked debate within and outside Russia is called Federal Law On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Regulating the Activities of Non-Governmental Organisations acting as Foreign Agents and was previously approved by both chambers of the Russian parliament.
It is the term “political activity” which has led to differences between lawmakers and human rights groups with regard to what kinds of activity are to be considered political.
The document stipulates that such spheres as science, art and culture, healthcare, sociology, charity and volunteering do not fit within the purview of political activity. It will also not restrict the activities of all religions in the country.
Religious organizations, state companies state-owned corporations and those NGOs founded by state companies aren’t obliged to report on their foreign sponsorship and won’t be branded foreign agents regardless of their revenue sources.
The author of the bill, MP Aleksandr Sidyakin, initiated together with a group of MPs from the majority United Russia Party, has dismissed all criticism as “hysteria and delirium” and that the aim is to have the NGOs to fully inform Russian citizens about their foreign supporters and, thus, about their real motivation.
The law provides for the establishment of a register of NGOs acting as foreign agents. In order to carry out its activities as a foreign agent, an NGO must apply to be included in the above register before starting its operation. The annual financial reports of such NGOs and the various subdivisions of foreign non-profit NGOs shall be subjected to mandatory audits.
NGOs acting as foreign agents shall submit to the federal executive body in charge of NGOs registration documents containing a report on their activities and personnel in their governing bodies once every six months, and documents on the expenditure of funds and resources including from foreign sources on a quarterly basis, and audit reports – annually. Such NGOs are required to publish regular reports on their activities on the Internet every six months.
Routine checks of NGOs acting as foreign agents shall occur no more frequently than once a year. The federal law also specifies the grounds for unscheduled inspections.
The materials published or distributed by these NGOs, including via the media or the Internet, must indicate that these materials are published or distributed by an NGO acting as a “foreign agent”.
The cases when funds are received by NGOs in amounts equal to or exceeding 200,000 rubles [$ 6,500] are subject to mandatory inspection.
The creation of an NGO that infringes on the personal freedoms and rights of citizens, as well as the consistent non-observance of the duties under the legislation of the Russian Federation on NGOs acting as foreign agents constitute criminal offences.
The amendments in the original bill order all Russian NGOs who fail to comply with the law will be punished by fines of up to 3,300,000 rubles (over $100,000) and repeated violators can spend up to two years in prison.
The document is to come into force in 120 days following its publication.
COMMENTARY: USA GIVES THEIR “CONCERN”
USA has a similar and much encompassing registry they require to all incoming foreign NGOs of any activity to disclose their actitivies called Foreign Agents Registry Unit, and the MPs stressed that the bill used similar US legislation as a “blueprint”.
Tim Fingarson, on behalf of the United States Mission to the OSCE, delivered a statement to the Permanent Council in Vienna earlier this month:
We also wish to clarify arguments drawing parallels between the proposed Duma bill and United States’ Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The draft Russian law, as we understand it, requires registration as a foreign agent of Russian groups receiving foreign funds and engaging in political activity, defined broadly. The U.S. law requires entities to register if they work to advance the interests of a foreign principal. The majority of FARA registrants are paid lobbyists, public relations offices, and law firms – not non-profit organizations. Registration under FARA is not required for U.S. organizations receiving funding from foreign sources.
That is America’s “diplomatic” PR version.
The background story is this:
We recommend everyone to watch and listen to Putin’s election victory and inaugural speech to get the context and understand why this bill became federal law. Putin in both his speeches challenged and promised to the West, particularly U.S.A. that inciting destabilizations, soft and hard coup (like they do around the world, such as “Arabspring”) within Russia (through the use of NGOs) is not going to succeed.
The Russians are very aware of what happened in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and other places how America has been meddling in many country’s internal affairs, including funding and training of dissidents, then send them back to do calculated “protests”, “revolution” and subversions, many times through the use NGOs as disguise.
Russia is merely preventing “American agents of influence” who use NGOs worldwide to undermine governments through creation of “chaos” in their society. When then the government “cracks down” the culprits, then America with their allies use it as media PR talking points and say “that government needs regime change due to disregard to human rights”. It is the same formula they use these days. China stopped “Jasmine Revolution” in time. The Chinese citizens where quite confused what it was. America failed to destabilize China in 2011 while they were doing distracting the world with Libya.
Remember, the KEY WORDS America uses to disguise its agenda is “Democracy” and “Human Rights”.
As they say, the one who pays the piper, controls the tunes. Russia does care for human rights. They want the piper to play its own Russian tunes and not America’s.