Una petizione contro la legge che definisce le ONG “agenti stranieri”

L’ONG “Memorial” è tra le associazioni promotrici di una petizione contro l’inaccettabile legge che ha introdotto in Russia la classificazione delle Organizzazioni non governative come “agenti stranieri”. La legge approvata dalla Duma mette di fatto sotto controllo tutte le organizzazioni non governative che ricevono finanziamenti dall’estero. Definite “agenti dello straniero”, dovranno ora presentare i giustificativi dei propri conti. Nel paese oltre ai presidi di protesta, l’opposizione ha denunciato la deriva antidemocratica del governo.

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3 lug 2012

On the unacceptable curtailment in Russia of humanitarian, charitable, human rights and other socially-orientated activities of nonprofit organizations and the recognition of the majority of participants as carrying out “the functions of a foreign agent.”

We, Russian citizens and representatives of nonprofit, nongovernment organizations, express our bewilderment and opposition to the passing of the bill N 102766-6 “On the introduction of changes in certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation, in part regulating the activity of nonprofit organizations carrying out the functions of a foreign agent.” We acknowledge the State’s right to “the organization of proper public oversight of the work of nonprofit organizations engaged in political activities on the territory of the Russian Federation and financed by foreign sources,” however we object to the bill’s conception and proposed wording. It does not solve the task at hand, and further, it threatens the humanitarian, charitable, human rights and other socially-orientated activities of various nonprofit organizations which are acting in the interests of Russia and its citizens. The conditions for this work were created in Russia over the past several years – an improvement in the legislation on NPOs, the adoption of support programs, and the development of social partnerships. To adopt the bill would be to wipe out these efforts and to worsen the situation for those people for whom the nonprofit organizations work.

In the case that the law is adopted, the mark of “foreign agent” will be branded upon all nonprofit organizations irrespective of their sphere of activity if they have ever received funds from a source located abroad — either directly from a foreign state program, an international organization, a charitable fund, a foreign partner, a foreign citizen, or even a Russian authority which received funds from abroad, or, if a business is concerned, if the business has earnt money in foreign markets. The bill’s definition of “political activities” includes practically any work of NPOs, even that completely unrelated to politics. Undoubtedly, all nonprofit organizations attempt to influence social opinion and the decisions of state organs in the sphere in which they work in order to achieve systemic improvements of their clients’ and beneficiaries’ situations. This applies equally to the activities of charitable and religious organizations, local community funds, trade unions, and other NPOs. How else can we protect social interests, achieve systemic changes, and develop our country?

The current version of the bill misleads the residents of Russia and creates an image of nonprofit organizations as the enemy. Many of us pay great attention to the transparency of our activities and keep nothing secret – it is possible to find reports with information on funding sources and the fund expenditure on nonprofit organizations’ websites and the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice website, where they are passed according to law every year.

The toughening of reporting requirements, exorbitant fines, and other sanctions for their violation will prove prohibitive to small, regional organizations which are not related to politics, but are subject to the bill.

If the bill is adopted, universities, schools, museums, and many other organizations will need to declare themselves “foreign agents”. This approach is evidence of the bill’s poor legal quality, which creates circumstances for selective application and corruption.

We insist that it is necessary to completely revise the bill, exclusively based on the task of “the organization of proper public oversight of the work of nonprofit organizations engaged in political activities on the territory of the Russian Federation and financed by foreign sources”. We consider the hasty adoption of the bill unacceptable without broad public discussion.

5 luglio 2012


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