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Call on Russian lawmakers to align NGO law with international legal standards

“I am very concerned about the State Duma’s recent proposal to further amend the Federal Law on Non-Commercial Organisations which would expand the definition of ‘political activity’ of NGOs allegedly performing functions of a ‘foreign agent’, said Yves Cruchten (Luxembourg, SOC), PACE rapporteur on “How can inappropriate restrictions on NGO activities in Europe be prevented?”. In January 2016 the Assembly adopted Resolution 2096 (2016), based on Mr Cruchten’s report, in which it expressed concern about the Russian ‘foreign agents law’ which obliges NGOs receiving foreign funding and engaging in “political activities” to register as “foreign agents”.

“I call, yet again, on Russian lawmakers to align their legislation on NGOs with international legal standards, as indicated in the Venice Commission’s Opinions Nos. 716/2013 and 717/2013,“ added the Rapporteur.

The draft law amending the Federal Law on “Non-commercial Organisations” was adopted in a first reading by the State Duma on 20 April; the deadline for tabling amendments is 10 May. According to this draft, the new definition of “political activity” is to encompass human rights activities.