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.
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

Multimedia Baltimore 'Victory Rally' Follows Charges in Detainee Death

Saturday's rally is largest organized gathering since state's attonrey filed felony charges in police-custody death of Freddie Gray More

UN Denies Child Sex Abuse Cover Up in CAR

UNHCR says senior official suspected of leaking report suspended for breaching rules More

Nepal Officials Slammed Over Aid Response

VOA News has compiled from various organizations complaints from across Nepal of bottlenecks at customs, repeated harassing inspections of aid convoys and seizure of goods 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.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs