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#12 - JRL 2006-238 - JRL Home
Moscow Times
October 25, 2006
Pamfilova Calls for Changes to NGO Law

A controversial new law on nongovernmental organizations is excessively bureaucratic and needs to be changed, Ella Pamfilova, a top adviser to President Vladimir Putin, said Tuesday.

"The law creates so much red tape that many organizations can't cope," said Pamfilova, who heads the president's Council on the Institutions of Civil Society and Human Rights.

"Considering the government's crackdown on NGOs, it is not surprising that they are experiencing difficulties," she added.

The NGO law, which came into effect in April, drew sharp criticism from Western governments, human rights groups and NGOs. Critics maintained the measure would cripple Russia's fledgling civil society, adding that it was reflective of the country's growing trend toward authoritarian government.

Russian authorities have countered that many groups posing as NGOs are actually criminal or terrorist organizations. They have also noted that popular uprisings in Ukraine and Georgia were helped along by foreign-backed NGOs.

All foreign NGOs operating in Russia were required to re-register with the Federal Registration Service by last Wednesday.

As of late Monday, 114 foreign NGOs had successfully re-registered; 71 applications were still under review.

The Washington-based National Democratic Institute was notified Monday that its application had been approved, a spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity.

The institute suspended its activities last Wednesday in accordance with the law, the spokeswoman said.

Sergei Nikitin, director of Amnesty International's Moscow office, said the organization had received no word from the Federal Migration Service, and that it had suspended operations.

"I so far cannot see any political motives behind the delay in processing [the application for registration]," he said.