Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bill in Russia Raises Concerns for Nonprofits

In Foreign-Funded Nonprofits in Russia Face New Hurdle, the New York times reports that a bill has been introduced in the Russian Parliament that would require nonprofit organizations that receive funding from sources outside of Russia to publicly declare themselves “foreign agents.”  This term, says the story, “evokes cold war-era espionage and is likely to discredit the organizations’ work in the eyes of the public.”  The story continues:

Lawmakers from United Russia, the governing party, have accelerated work on the bill and are scheduling the first of three readings on Friday. If passed, the bill would complement a new law penalizing Russians for taking part in unauthorized protests, which was rushed through Parliament at a similar pace last month.

The bill would also put new burdens on nonprofit groups with foreign financing that are judged to be involved in politics, including annual audits and unannounced checks for the use of “extremist speech” in published materials. Organizations could face fines of as much as 1 million rubles, or $30,000, for violations.

Rights activists have excoriated the proposal as an attempt to discredit their work, arguing that Russian donors are afraid to support organizations that criticize the government, which then leaves them dependent on foreign sources for money.



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