NGO law: Guilty everyone who's not hiding?22.11.2012 | 14:29
Amendments to the law on non-profit organization, under which the NGOs involved in political activities and financed from abroad must formally obtain the status of foreign agents, entered into force on 21st of November. It is no secret that the North Caucasus is under special control of the Russian and international human rights organizations: the majority of applications to the European Court of Human Rights of the citizens of Russia comes from the Caucasian republics. So, the legislative initiative will directly affect the interests of the region.
"We are less concerned about amendments, than about its possible legal use in the North Caucasus", Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Memorial" Alexander Cherkasov noted in an interview to the "Big Caucasus". "Our officials use any law to prohibit all they can. Obviously, the local officials are unlikely to cooperate with those who have status of a foreign agent. So the point is not in principle, not just in the fact that the status of a foreign agent does not meet reality, but in the fact that the recognition of such a formulation makes defenders' work technically impossible".
According to Cherkasov, the law is written "for arbitrary interpretation": "Vague language, both for some of the concepts and the lack thereof, makes the law unlawful. If in a region there is a structure which must apply the law, it has to demonstrate its activity, so it has to punish someone even in the absence of foreign agents. And the wording of the law allows this. The only way to confront all kinds of oppression and persecution - to go to the court: to the Russian and international authorities having relevant jurisdiction", concluded the defender.
Meanwhile, the head of Ingush human rights organization "Mashr" Magomed Mutsolgov believes that the entry into force of amendments to the law on the NGOs will not affect the work of his organization. "We worked and we will work", Mutsolgov told the "Big Caucasus". "I understand that the law applies to those who are engaged in political activity, and my organization provides free legal assistance".
At the same time, Mutsolgov readily admits that the amendments to the law may be "an instrument of pressure" in the hands of some "unscrupulous officials and security forces". "Obviously, there's nothing good in it (in the adoption of amendments to the law - Ed.)", added Ingush human rights activist. "As for me, the very wording of the law is offensive. This law is illegal and contrary to our Constitution. And in general, the laws taken by some political intrigue do not act. For example, there are non-political human rights organizations, employees of which, however, work independently from politics. How to be in such a situation? This is not a law. It is anti-constitutional".
On the eve of the entry into force of amendments to the law, on the night of November 21, unknown persons painted "Foreign agent. Love USA" on the wall of the building of the Russian human rights organization "Memorial". Apparently, this way anonymous responded to widespread earlier statement of "Memorial" that the organization did not intend to register as a foreign agent. The initiative of the "Memorial" was supported by the "Moscow Helsinki Group", Transparency International and other human rights organizations.
In response, the Deputy Secretary General of the "United Russia" Olga Batalova accused human rights organizations of sabotage and threatened that their activities may be suspended: "Legal nihilism results in nothing good - they (the NGOs that refuse to meet the law - Ed. ) will bear responsibility for violations of the law, up to suspension of activities".
It should be added that Batalova's statements appeared on the website of "United Russia" on November 15, on the day when the experts found a mysterious correspondence of employees of the US-Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (USRF) on an obscure website, which states that the fund would allocate funds to Russian organizations covered by the new law.