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Russia's new law on 'undesirable' foreign NGOs endangers the right of free expression, say PACE co-rapporteurs

“We express our profound concerns regarding the new legislation on ‘undesirable’ foreign organisations in Russia which endangers the right of free expression of the political opposition, the media and civil society,” said Theodora Bakoyannis (Greece, EPP/CD) and Liliane Maury Pasquier (Switzerland, SOC), co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Russia by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

“Full respect for freedom of expression, assembly and association is a necessary condition for the functioning of any democratic and pluralistic society. NGOs are a richness of the democratic processes which need to be encouraged and not impeded,” they added.

The law prohibits the work of foreign organisations that are considered a threat to the security of Russia’s constitutional order and defence capacity and punishes anyone that would collaborate with them. “It therefore creates conditions that place into obvious doubt the democratic right of free expression for every civilian or organisation,” the co-rapporteurs stressed.

The co-rapporteurs call on the Russian authorities to facilitate the work of Russian activists, NGOs and media organisations and to promptly bring the legislative framework on NGOs fully into line with Council of Europe standards.