News / Europe

Russia Raids Hundreds of NGOs

Russian President Vladimir Putin (l) and presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin meet in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, March 28, 2013.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (l) and presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin meet in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, March 28, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
— Hundreds of non-governmental organizations across Russia say they have been raided and harassed by the government in recent weeks. President Vladimir Putin says they are being inspected to make sure they comply with a law meant to stop foreign countries from meddling in domestic affairs.

Activists say their organizations are facing pressure and surprise inspections by authorities ranging from tax officials to fire inspectors.

Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the spot checks. Putin says the prosecutor general is required to check the legal activity of government bodies and social organizations. He says that the goal of these inspections is to see whether the activities of an NGO match its stated goals.  Putin also says that the inspections are meant to make sure the NGOs are not being politically financed from abroad.

Since assuming the presidency again last May, Putin has maintained that foreign countries, mainly the United States, have been encouraging and funding the mass protests he has faced since Russian parliamentary elections in 2011 - a charge Washington denies.

As a result, non-governmental organizations that receive foreign funding and participate in political activities are now required to register as "foreign agents," a term that dates back to Soviet times and is synonymous with espionage.

Critics across the globe have denounced the widespread, surprise searches. France and Germany called in Russia’s ambassadors to explain the inspections. Britain, the U.S. and the EU have expressed concern.

Oleg Orlov is chairman of Memorial, one of Russia’s oldest human rights groups.

"Offices are drowning in a huge amount of paperwork from dozens of organizations. How organizations are supposed to deal with the bureaucracy? I believe that the outcome of the searches is pre-determined, and the NGOs will be labeled foreign agents by the government," said Orlov.

If found guilty of being a foreign agent, organizations face criminal fines, among other things.

Pavel Chikov is a member of Russia’s Presidential Council on Human Rights.

"The inspections are either completely unprofessional, or their goal is to paralyze the NGOs for a little while and scare them," said Chikov.

Organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have faced the most pressure and inspections, but other groups, including those promoting bird watching and offering French lessons, have also been targeted.

Chikov says that agencies with no connection to the foreign NGO law, including the fire, labor and health departments, have joined in to harass the organizations.

The Kremlin maintains it is merely trying to enforce the law.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
March 29, 2013 9:35 PM
The Kremlin’s claims of “enforcing the law” sound ridiculous as they are a mockery of justice, a smokescreen to hide the illegitimacy of all last elections held in Russia to the highest offices, malignant corruption, mismanagement of economy. The last two months Russian economy is at a standstill. Widely known is the fact of 99% guilty verdicts passed by courts of law, harassed political activists, gagged press, and suspended basic human rights of the Russian Constitution. Internet access is impeded to anyone trying to have their day. So I absolutely agree with the opinion above that the only goal of these “inspections” is to paralyze and scare all NGO that might have an independent view on the political and economical situation in nowadays Russia.

In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
April 02, 2013 1:39 AM
Hey Gennady, the LOOSER, you do not have any single right to condemn the government because you have not done any good thing for your country except spreading dirty lies. How much have you received from our enemies for selling the whole nation?

In Response

by: Worry01 from: U.S.
March 30, 2013 12:48 AM
It is unfortunate. There might be no alternative other than to leave at this point.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid