12/05/2021 Legal Affairs and Human Rights
The rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for follow-up to Resolution 2362 (2021) on "Restrictions on NGO activities in Council of Europe member States", Alexandra Louis (France, ALDE), has expressed concern over two new draft laws aimed at widening the scope of application of the Russian law of 23 May 2015 on "undesirable organisations".
"The application of the law on ‘undesirable organisations’, criticised by the Venice Commission and the Assembly, has already led to the closure of some 30 international NGOs in the Russian Federation. It is all the more worrying that two new draft laws have recently been tabled in the State Duma to widen the scope of its application. If adopted, the implementation of new provisions of the law would further shrink the space for civil society in Russia.
These new draft laws run counter to the recommendation made by the Assembly last January in its Resolution 2362 (2021), urging Council of Europe member States to ‘refrain from adopting new laws which would result in unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the activities of NGOs’. I therefore call on the parliamentarians of the Russian Federation not to proceed with the adoption of these draft laws and on the Russian authorities to respect international law standards regarding NGOs’ rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression.”
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On 4 May, a group of deputies submitted two draft laws to the State Duma aimed at broadening the scope of application of the law on "undesirable organisations". Thus, the law would also apply to persons participating in the activities of "undesirable organisations" abroad (i.e. citizens of the Russian Federation, stateless persons permanently residing there and Russian legal entities). In addition, it is proposed that criminal penalties for participation in or leadership of such an organisation be increased, and that any foreign or international NGO that "mediates" the funding of organisations deemed "undesirable" in Russia would themselves also be considered "undesirable".