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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More