Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson
#12 - JRL 2009-14 - JRL Home
Russian human rights champion rejects police suspicions of money laundering

Moscow, 19 January: The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, has rejected comments by Interior Ministry spokesmen that noncommercial and charitable organizations in Russia are being used to legalize criminal incomes.

"This is an attempt to influence public opinion against noncommercial and charitable organizations. Everywhere in the world they are benefactors but here, as you can see, they're a bad thing," Alekseyeva, who leads Russia's oldest noncommercial human-rights organization, told Interfax today.

Today's edition of the newspaper Gazeta interviews Maj-Gen Yuriy Popugayev, deputy head of the Interior Ministry's economic security department, who believes that noncommercial bodies in virtually every area of public life are being used to legalize criminal incomes. "Noncommercial and charitable organizations active in nearly every aspect of life - education, sport, culture, the arts and others - are being used for criminal purposes," he said. "Because of inadequacies in Russian legislation, such organizations are not properly overseen by fiscal, supervisory and monitoring authorities. So there is a very wide range of abuses of which sponsors may not be aware."

Alekseyeva counters that noncommercial organizations are tightly scrutinized as they spend their money. "Let me assure the Interior Ministry that both the state and sponsors maintain strict controls over the way we use our resources. Russia passed an unprecedented law on noncommercial organizations in 2006, under which every quarter we are audited literally to the last penny. Even if money comes in from independent sponsors, the state still checks this and we can spend money only on publicly-announced programmes," she said.