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NGO Bill Implies "Presumption Of Guilt" - Ombudsman

MOSCOW. Feb 27 (Interfax) - Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin believes that the Russian bill on non-governmental organizations still implies "the presumption of guilt" of non- governmental organizations.

"The bill presupposes that should an executive body decide that an NGO's activity is inappropriate, the NGO will be banned and may appeal in court," Lukin said at an annual conference within the framework of the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) on Monday in Moscow. Moreover, Lukin disagreed with such an order provided by the law.

"In my opinion this is incorrect. Things should be vice-versa," Lukin said. Furthermore, the bill interprets such notions as "political activity" and "national traditions" in broad terms, he said.

At the same time the final edition of the bill that was adopted after presidential amendments were introduced is much better than the first edition, he said.

Asked about attitude of the Russian authorities to EU grants to Russian NGOs within the framework of the EIDHR, Lukin said that "legal and illegal grants differ much. Should a grant be legal from the point of view of Russian law, I do not care who and how they are treated. Should they be illegal, one should apply to court. But if everything is transparent, this means that they are legal and the rest is emotion," he said.