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Public Chamber points to minuses in NGO bill

MOSCOW, December 23 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Public Chamber issued a statement Friday pointing out the flaws in the bill on non-governmental organizations that the lower house of parliament passed in the third and final reading.

The chamber said the newly revised draft law had a number of drawbacks and that some provisions of the bill would lead to the formation of a new powerful bureaucratic machine.

Members of the chamber said one of the main drawbacks was the provision on annual inspections of public and non-commercial organizations to be conducted by a new supervisory body.

The statement said that under the law, organizations would be obliged to provide information about their activities on a regular basis, not upon special request.

As a result, the statement said the supervisory body's main focus would be to find grounds for the elimination or suspension of activities of public organizations in order to justify the existence of the new bureaucratic machine.

The bill stipulates registration procedures and requirements for public non-profit organizations. However, when the law comes into force, existing NGOs will not be required to re-register. Only new branches and representatives of foreign NGOs will need to obtain registration from the federal registration service.

Branches of foreign NGOs in Russia will also have to report on their programs, their financing, and the organizations they plan to deal with in Russia.

Under the final version of the law, public organizations that will not act as legal entities in Russia will not have to report to authorities about their activities.