MINSK, 25 February. The head of the Ministry of justice of Russia Alexander Konovalov sure that the Department correctly interprets the concept of political activity of NGOs in accordance with applicable law.
Non-profit organizations in Russia
“We believe that correctly interpreted the concept of jurisprudence, which is formed, confirms it”, – he has declared today to journalists in response to a request to comment on the recent statement by the Commissioner for human rights in Russia Ella Pamfilova, who called the elimination of the human rights organization “Agora” alarming trend, believing that this was possible because of the wide interpretation by the Ministry of justice the definition of the political activities of NPOs.
“If the court will be to correct us, we will adjust the practice,” – said Konovalov.
However, he stressed that the Ministry was always ready to listen to “the concerns and proposals of human rights defenders”.
Disputes around the interpretation of the concept of political activity in respect of NGOs have arisen in connection with the law on NGOs – “foreign agents”, which was adopted in 2012. He obliges NGOs engaged in political activity and receiving funding from abroad, to accept the status of “foreign agents” with the subsequent entering in a special register. NCOs – “foreign agents” are obliged to indicate in the publication of materials on the Internet and the media this status. For evading this requirement is subject to a fine.
This law has been repeatedly criticised by the NGOs themselves and of the presidential Council on civil society development and human rights (SPCH). The head of the HRC Mikhail Fedotov called on to clarify the concept of “political activity”. The lack of a specific definition, in his opinion, fraught with “political” recognized about 70 activities.
In January of this year, the Ministry of justice has presented for public discussion the draft law on the criteria of political activities of NPOs. According to this document, NGOs are recognized to engage in political activities in Russia if it carries out “activities in the field of government and foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, the Federal structure of the Russian Federation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, ensuring of legality, law and order, state and public security, national defense, foreign policy, socio-economic and national development of the Russian Federation” and so forth, if it is conducted “in order to influence the formulation and implementation of state policy on the formation of state bodies, bodies of local self-government, their decisions and actions”.
Prescribe forms in which such activities are carried out. If it is separately specified that does not apply to political activities in the field of science, culture, health care, charitable activities, etc. under certain conditions.
A similar bill in February of this year submitted to the state Duma a group of deputies from all factions.
The Russian Federation uses all legitimate means to defend the arrested assets in France
In this case, Konovalov said that Russia will use all legal means to avoid arrest in France, according to the requirements of lawyers of Yukos Russian assets, including a Bank guarantee of Rosoboronexport related to the contract for the construction of ships “Mistral”.
Russia ordered from France the helicopter carrier type “Mistral” in 2011. In 2014 Paris has frozen the supply of ships in connection with the situation in Ukraine, and in 2015 the Russian Federation and France have agreed to terminate the contract. Shortly thereafter, the “Mistral” has acquired Egypt. As expected, the new buyer will get ships in 2016 together with the French landing craft.
“In six jurisdictions where the procedure is already running the so-called legislature, where the plaintiffs Yukos appealed to the national courts about the treatment decision of the Hague Tribunal to the fulfillment, in all these cases there is a protracted positional struggle, including the attempts (to impose) a sanction on the different assets. So, what exactly took place on the day, I won’t tell. But in all cases very carefully use all legitimate means provided by the legislation of national jurisdictions, to defend the position of the Russian Federation”, – said Konovalov. So he answered a request to comment on media reports that ex-Yukos shareholders are trying to arrest in France of a Bank guarantee of Rosoboronexport related to the deal on the “Mistral”.
Arbitration under the mediation of the Permanent court of arbitration in the Hague, in July 2014 ruled that Russia owes a total of to pay more than $ 50 billion to companies affiliated with the former shareholders of Yukos. The court decided that Russia’s actions against Yukos could be regarded as expropriation of the investment, violating the 45th article of the Energy Charter. The proceedings on the merits commenced on 9 February 2016.