Not to dig wells
Presidential Council on human rights (HRC) on Wednesday, February 10, discussed developed by Ministry of justice amendments to the law on NGOs-foreign agents about the definition of “political activities”, which becomes the basis for recognition of NCO as a foreign agent.
The Ministry of justice published at the end of January amendments to the law on NGOs, which suggested to consider the areas where political activity, state building and the Federal structure, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Russia, ensuring of legality, law and order, security, national defense, foreign policy, integrity and stability of the political system, socio-economic and national development of the country, the functioning and formation of bodies of state power and local self-government, the regulation of the rights and freedoms of man and citizen.
The meeting was attended by the head of the Department for NPOs of the Ministry of justice Vladimir Titov, who for about two hours answered questions of members of the HRC.
“It turns out that political activities can be considered as a letter in a city administration or area with a request to dig a well. After all, this attempt to influence the decision of officials, said Titov at the meeting, the Chairman of the HRC Mikhail Fedotov. And it turns out that the task that was set after meeting with the President to make sure that the registry did not get NPOs that do not engage in political activities, not executed”.
A question of money
“Do I understand correctly that the same activity may be recognized as political or not depending on the order, it is carried out in a foreign money or not? — wondered a member of the HRC, head of the “Committee for the prevention of torture” Igor Kalyapin.
In response, Titov admitted that the proposal of the Ministry of justice is really of utmost importance is the funding source, and not the activity itself. After a few critical voices, members of the HRC Titov broke down and gave the example of how, from his point of view, NPOs, which by Charter had not planned to engage in political activity, went beyond the Charter.
“Here, for example, a private kindergarten in Kemerovo. Its owner is engaged in a good cause — raising kids. It would seem that where there is political activity? — gave the example of Titov. But a relative of the owner of the kindergarten decided to run for mayor. She summoned the parents of the children and said to them, “Take the banners ready, and go to the March in support of a candidate”.
“Today you are disabled, and tomorrow incorrectly annexed Crimea”, — Titov has responded to another comment about too broad of interpretation of the law.
Members of the HRC criticized the proposal of the Ministry of justice and expressed doubt that the original objectives that were set for the Department were achieved. In their opinion, instead of defining the term “political activity” and reducing the grounds for getting a non-political NGO document, on the contrary, significantly expands the possibilities of interpretation of this definition. As a result, the members of the HRC called on to rewrite the bill of the Ministry of justice.
In the nearly four years that the law,116 organizations have been in the registry of foreign agents.
After meeting President Vladimir Putin with members of the HRC in October 2015, it was decided utochnit of the concept of “political activity”, the need for this was recognized and the President. He gave the order to create a working group to develop proposals on concretization of the legislation on NGOs. It was headed by the first Deputy head of the presidential administration Vyacheslav Volodin, and representatives of the Ministry of justice, General Prosecutor’s office, Public chamber, both chambers of Parliament and others.