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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs