Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Russian government investigates foreign NGOs

The Russian government has begun inspections on all foreign non-government organizations, drawing criticism from western governments and some human rights groups.

Officials from the cities of Berlin and Paris have issued public statements demanding official explanations from the office of Russia's general prosecutor for the inspections occurring in German and French NGO offices in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, The Voice of Russia reports.

"The goal of the current checks is to determine what extent the activities of given NGOs comply with the goals they declared earlier and if the activities comply with the Russian law," Russian President Vladimir Putin said about the inspections, according to The Voice of Russia.

Current NGO legislation was enacted in Russia in November when the status of "foreign agents" was issued to all organizations that participate in the Russian economy but receive financing from outside the country. Last month, the Russian general prosecutor's office ordered the inspection of all NGO financial records to uncover any violations.

"Such violations can include discrepancy in spending, provisions in the organizations' charters which contradict the law on extremism, uncertain sources of financing, participation in elections including providing financial support from abroad to some of the candidates", Moscow Human Rights Center Director Mikhail Salkin said, according to The Voice of Russia.

To date, checks have been conducted on 90 foreign NGOs in 24 Russian regions. No results have been posted by the general prosecutor's office thus far.