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Civil society: Russia changes the rules

Written by Rachel Davies on Tuesday, 20 November 2012

From 21 November, any Russian organisation that campaigns on public policy issues and receives foreign funding for civil society work will be forced to register as an ´agent of foreign influence.’


From 21 November, any Russian organisation that campaigns on public policy issues and receives foreign funding for civil society work will be forced to register as an ´agent of foreign influence.’

I have just returned from Brazil where I attended Transparency International´s (TI) annual members meeting. I look forward to this event every year as it is a great opportunity to get together with TI colleagues from more than 100 countries around the world.

On the bus to the conference centre one morning I got chatting to a colleague who works for TI in Russia where the team is facing significant challenges in their anti-corruption work.

He told me that a recently adopted law states that the act of submitting information to an international organisation (such as an NGO) will be considered potential high treason punishable by 12 to 20 years of imprisonment.

In addition, from 21 November, any Russian organisation that campaigns on public policy issues and receives foreign funding for civil society work will be forced to register as an ´agent of foreign influence.’ This new legal requirement violates the international conventions and treaties which the Russian Federation has signed. Some have suggested that the legislation will aid the abolition of the role of civil society in Russia.

This move by the Russian Government is a grave violation of human rights and an attack on freedom of expression. TI chapters in the Europe and Central Asia region have co-signed a statement calling on the Russian authorities to respect their international commitments on human rights and freedom of civil society.

I am able to do my work with little risk to my safety or freedom. Last week’s conversation served a sober reminder that many of my colleagues do not have that luxury.

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Read 5374 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:47
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Rachel Davies

Rachel Davies Teka is Head of Advocacy at TI-UK, and co-chair of the Bond Anti-Corruption Group. You can tweet her @rachelcerysd.

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