05 July 2012, 23:00

Statement of NCO representatives on inadmissibility of reduction in Russia of humanitarian, charity, human rights and other socially-oriented activities of NCOs and recognition of the majority of such organizations as performing "functions of foreign agents"

We, Russian citizens and representatives of Russian non-governmental and non-commercial organizations (NGOs and NCOs), are hereby expressing our bewilderment and protest against passing the bill No. 102766-6 "On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Related to Regulation of Activities of NCOs, Functioning as Foreign Agents". We recognize the right of the state "to organize proper public control over the work of the NCOs engaged in political activities in the territory of the Russian Federation and financed from foreign sources"; however, we object to the concept of the bill and its proposed formulations. They fail to address the preset problem, but threaten the humanitarian, charity, human rights and other social activities, undertaken by a variety of NCOs in the interests of Russia and its citizens. The conditions for these activities have been set up in Russia in a number of recent years - the legislation on NCOs was improved; support programmes were adopted; and social partnership was established. Passing the above bill means to cross out these efforts, worsen the situation of the people, for whom NCOs work.

In case of passing the bill, the stigma of a "foreign agent" will be imprinted into all NCOs, regardless of their scope of activities, which had ever received money from a source abroad - directly from a foreign governmental programme, international organization, charitable foundation, foreign partner, foreign citizen, or even a Russian organization that had received money from abroad or, in case of doing business, earned the money in international markets. The bill defines "political activities" such that it covers almost any work of NCOs, even those, which are quite far away from politics. No doubt, all NCOs try to influence the public opinion and decisions of state bodies in the area, where they work, to achieve a systemic improvement of the position of their clients and beneficiaries. This equally applies to the work of charitable and religious organizations, local community foundations, trade unions and other NCOs. How else can we protect public interests, achieve systemic changes and develop our country?

In the current wording the bill is misleading citizens of Russia, and creates an image of the enemy in the person of NCOs. Many of them pay much attention to transparency of their activities and make no secret of it - reports with information on funding sources and expenditures can be found on websites of NCOs and the Ministry of Justice, where they are annually submitted according to the legislation.

More stringent rules of reporting and exorbitant fines and other sanctions for breaching thereof would be unbearable for small regional organizations, which are distant from politics, but still covered by the bill.

Should the bill be adopted, the label of "foreign agents" will be attached to universities, schools, museums and many other organizations. This approach is an evidence of the low legal quality of the bill; it will give rise to its selective application and corruption.

We insist on the need for a complete redesign of the bill based solely on the task of "organization of proper public control over the work of NCOs engaged in political activities in the territory of the Russian Federation and funded from foreign sources." We find it unacceptable to hastily adopt the bill without a broad public discussion of it.

July 3, 2012

Initiators of the Statement:
1. Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization "Agency of Social Information," Topoleva-Soldunova, Elena Andreyevna, Director, Member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation
2. Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization "Studio-Dialogue", Suvorova, Olga Arsenyevna, Director
3. Charitable Fund "Centre for Wildlife Protection", Zimenko, Alexei Vladimirovich, Director General
4. Vladimir Potanin Charitable Fund, Zelkova, Larisa Gennadievna, Director general of the Fund, Member of the Public Chamber of the Russian federation
5. Charity Centre "Co-Partnership in Fate", Golovan, Alexei Ivanovich, Executive Director
6. Charitable Foundation to Promote Education of Orphans "Big Break", Ryazanova, Irina Pavlovna, Executive Director
7. World Wildlife Fund (WWF Russia), Chestin, Igor Evgenievich, Director
8. All-Russian Association of regional human rights organizations, Mescheryakov, Daniil Alexandrovich, Chairman of the Board
9. City Charitable Fund "Fund of Togliatti", Tsirulnikov, Boris Albertovich, Executive Director
10. European University in St Petersburg, Kharkhordin, Oleg Valerievich, Rector
11. Information-Analytical Centre "Sova", Verkhovskiy, Alexander Markovich, Director
12. Krasnoyarsk Regional Ecologic Public Movement "Friends of Siberian Forests", Laletin. Andrei Petrovich, Top Manager
13. International Historic-Educational, Charitable and Human Rights Society "Memorial", Zhemkova Elena Borisovna, Director General
14. Interregional Association of Human Rights Organizations "Agora", Chikov, Pavel Vladimirovich, Chairman
15. Interregional Public Organization "Committee Against Torture" (Nizhny Novgorod), Kalyapin, Igor Alexandrovich, Chairman
16. Interregional Public Fund "Siberian Support Centre of Civil Initiatives" (Novosibirsk), Malitskaya, Elena Pavlovna, President
17. Youth Human Rights Movement (YHRM), Dobrovolskaya, Anna Yurievna, Member of the Coordinating Board, Yurov, Andrei Yurievich, Honorary President of the YHRM
18. Moscow Helsinki Group, Alekseeva, Lyudmila Mikhailovna, Chairperson
19. Non-State Educational Institution "Russian Economic School", Guriev Sergey Maratovich, Rector
20. Non-Commercial Organization "Downside Up Fund", Portugalova, Anna Yurievna, Director
21. Non-Commercial Partnership of Grantors "Donors' Forum", Kaminarskaya, Natalia Georgievna, Executive Secretary
22. Non-Commercial Partnership "Down Syndrome", Rabinovich, Anatoly Evgenievich, Chairman of the Board
23. Non-Commercial Partnership "Lawyers for Civil Society", Miloslavskaya, Daria Igorevna, Chairman of the Board, Member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation
24. All-Russian Public Movement "For Human Rights", Ponomaryov, Lev Alexandrovich, Executive Director
25. Penza Fund of Local Community "Civil Union", Sharipkov, Oleg Viktorovich, Executive Director
26. Regional Charity Public Association (RCPA) "Centre for Curative Pedagogic", Bitova, Anna Lvovna, President
27. Regional Charitable Public Organization "Garant - Arkhangelsk Centre of Social Technologies", Mikhailova, Marina Evgenievna, Director
28. Regional Public Organization of Invalids "Perspective", Rosa Denis, Director
29. Regional Public Organization for Promoting Children's Rights "Right of the Child", Altshuler, Boris Lvovich, President, Member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation
30. Russian Charitable Fund "No to Alcoholism and Drug Addiction!", Zykov, Oleg Vladimirovich, President
31. Russian Charitable Fund "Give Life", Chistyakova, Ekaterina Konstantinova, Director; Khamatova, Chulpan Nailevna, Founder, Member of the Board of Trustees, Korzun, Dina Alexandrovna, Founder, Member of the Board of Trustees
32. Russian Help Fund of the "Kommersant" Publishers, Ambinder, Lev Sergeyevich, Director and President of the Rusfund
33. Russian Committee "Children's Villages-SOS", Slabzhanin, Nikolai Yurievich, Executive Director
34. St Petersburg Charity Public Organization "NCO Development Centre", Skvortsova Anna, Executive Director
35. Fund "Public Verdict", Taubina Natalia Evgenievna, Director
36. Dmitry Zimin's Fund of Non-Commercial Programmes "Dynasty", Piotrovskaya, Anna Yurievna, Director
37. "CAF" Fund in Support and Development of Philanthropy, Chertok, Maria Mikhailovna, Director
38. Freedom of Information Fund, Pavlov, Ivan Yurievich, Chairman of the Board
39. Fund for Social Development and Health Care "FOCUS-MEDIA", Alekseeva, Eugenia Georgievna, Director
40. Fund EKOSOTSIS, Kozlov, Alexei Yurievich, Director
41. Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, Djibladze, Yuri Djuansherovich, President
42. Centre for Social and Labour Rights, Gerasimova, Elena Sergeyevna, Director
43. Environmental Group "Ecozaschita", Slivyak, Vladimir Vladimirovich, Co-Chair
44. Environmental Education Centre "Nature Reserves", Danilina, Natalia Romanovna, Director, Member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation

Note: On July 4-10, 2012, the website of the International Programme "Petitions in Action" is collecting signatures (http://www.civilpetitions.org/campaigns/petition/view/number/19/)

Source: Website of the Programme "Petitions in Action"

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