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Watching Russia As Russia Watches
A draft law would require that 450,000 NGOs in Russia re-register with the government "which would then screen them to ensure they are not engaged in foreign-funded political activity or other work not explicitly authorized in their charter" according to a story carried by

Furthermore, "Foreign NGOs would be barred from having representative offices in Russia and could operate here only if they became membership organizations, which could require them to recruit local people." NGOs, such as the Ford Foundation and Human Rights Watch, are concerned that the law could effectively shut their Russian offices. A group of Russian NGOs, including the Moscow Helsinki Group, said that "Implementation of the draft law will turn back Russian civil society's clock by at least 15 years."

In defense of the proposed legislation, a senior official with Russia's domestic security agency is quoted as saying, that the lack of oversight of NGOs "creates a fertile ground for conducting intelligence operations under the guise of charity and other activities."

While government officials are objecting to the activities of Western and reformist NGOs in Russia, some politicians are interested in using NGOs to promote Russian interests in other countries. A story in Vremya Novostei states that "Representatives of United Russia's leftist platform...suggested that the 2006 federal budget set aside 500 million rubles ($17.32 million) for supporting non-governmental organizations in Russia and abroad." The story goes on to quote a senior parliamentary official as stating, "First of all, we must defend human rights and freedoms in the Baltic states, which are discriminating against the Russian diaspora."

International and homegrown Russian NGOs are watching the government as its political situation evolves. Russia is ever more closely watching the activities of foreign and domestic NGOs. Winston watches everybody.
  • Click here for story on
  • Click here for English translation of story in Vremya Novostei


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