Update on NGOs in Russia
Thursday, February 2, 2006 4:30 PM

18 January 2006

President Putin signed controversial legislation on nongovernmental organizations into law on 10 January, but the move was not reported in the official "Rossyskaya gazeta" until 17 January in an apparent effort not to have the matter cloud German Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent visit to Moscow, "The Moscow Times" reported (see End Note, "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January 2006). The law will come into force on 10 April. Asked why "Rossyskaya gazeta" waited a week to publish the announcement, Deputy Editor Timofei Kuznetsov said that it is "not a pressing law. It does not come into force from the moment it is published, but within 90 days [of being signed]." PM

31 January 2006

BRITISH AMBASSADOR DENIES CHARGES ON NGOS. Anthony Brenton, who is the ambassador of the United Kingdom to Russia, has written to several NGOs in that country to "assure all of our current and former recipients of grants that there is nothing unlawful or in anyway improper about our support to NGOs in Russia," the "Financial Times" reported on 31 January. The London daily noted that this "is the strongest [U.K.] response to date to the accusations made by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) that some Russian NGOs, including the Moscow Helsinki Group, are financed by the British intelligence service" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 and 27 January 2006). PM

PUBLIC CHAMBER CALLS FOR RESTRAINT WITH NGOS. Public Chamber Secretary Yevgeny Velikhov read a statement on 30 January in which he expressed concern over unspecified recent "statements about contacts between foreign special services and Russian public associations [NGOs]," Interfax reported. "The Public Chamber Council calls upon the state and the mass media to refrain from using the scandal to undermine the prestige of Russian [NGOs] pending an investigation into all the circumstances surrounding the matter," he added (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 and 30 January 2006). PM

1 February 2006

NGO ACTIVIST TO FILE LAWSUITS. Lyudmila Alekseyeva, a frequent RFE/RL contributor who heads the nongovernmental organization Moscow Helsinki Group, said in Moscow on 31 January that she will sue "the first and second television networks, the journalist Arkady Mamontov, and the head of the parliament's security committee...who have [recently] accused me of taking money from foreign spies," mosnews.com reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 January 2006). "This is exactly like [the times of] the Soviet Union, when I was accused of receiving money from the CIA.... We will defend all [NGOs] that are being put under pressure by the authorities," she added. The chairman of the State Duma Security Committee is Colonel General Vladimir Vasilev of the Unified Russia party. PM

2 February 2006

POLICE DETAIN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS. Police detained 15 human rights activists in Moscow on 1 February for holding a protest rally after being denied permission to do so, Russian news agencies reported.

About 50 activists from nongovernmental organizations gathered near the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB) to protest recent FSB allegations that Russian NGOs had received funds from alleged British spies. Activists say the allegations are part of a government campaign to discredit NGOs and gain support for a controversial new law restricting their activities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January and 1 February 2006). PM

Published in: Putin Signs NGO Bill into Law, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, 18 January 2006; British Ambassador Denies Charges on NGOs, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, 31 January 2006; Public Chamber Calls for Restraint with NGOs, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, 31 January 2006; NGO Activist to File Lawsuits, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, 1 February 2006; Police Detain Rights Activists, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, 2 February 2006.

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