The law on foreign agents, which came into force last year in Russia, continues to be a headache for the Russian human rights community. The Presidential Council on Human Rights and the Development of Civil Society joined the scandal - not the whole council, but only several representatives of it. However, their point of view is presented - as usual - as the opinion of the entire council.
Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the HRC, constantly criticized the law on foreign agents in the past. Now he has become even more active. Now he believes that the law should be revoked.
According to the head of the HRC, all necessary tools to control the activities of NGOs are contained in the Civil Code. In particular, the Code contains an article that gives the definition of the agency agreement and foreign customers.
Therefore, the Kommersant wrote, Mikhail Fedotov said that the law on non-profit organizations, which contains the definition of "foreign agents", can simply be revoked.
The newspaper also quotes the opinion of a member of the HRC, Pavel Chikov. According to him, the Civil Code takes precedence over profile laws. Revoking the law on NGOs, says Chikov, will clean the Russian legislation. According to the official, the provisions of the laws on extremism, foreign agents and political activities are nothing but garbage.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act came into force in Russia in November 2012. According to the law, non-profit organizations that conduct political activities in Russia on the funds they receive from abroad should be registered with the Ministry for Justice as foreign agents.
However, the "political" NGOs immediately became opposed to their designation as "agents." Although, it should be noted, only several of them publicly renounced foreign funding.
According to Igor Borisov, a member of the HRC, specific proposals regarding the issue of NGOs have not been submitted to the agenda of the council yet. "I would like to note that council members have different positions about the current model of the legislation governing the activities of NGOs," Igor Borisov told Pravda.Ru. According to him, Fedotov's opinion is only a point of view.
"There is also an opposite viewpoint associated with the improvement of legislation aimed at regulation, I want to emphasize this word - regulation of the foreign funding of NGOs working in the political sphere," said Borisov.
In his view, this concept is not so narrow, "as it is interpreted by some of my colleagues from the Council, who believe that politics is all about the associations that participate in elections."
"Today, it is absolutely not the case. Politics also includes quasi human rights activities that can be confirmed by examples of "orange revolutions" in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa," said Igor Borisov.
"As long as the law provides verification of NGOs, changing this rule is pointless," a member of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, Alexander Brod, told Pravda.Ru. "We can not create special greenhouse conditions for NGOs to separate them and put them in privileged positions in comparison with other organizations related to businesses or just citizens who are required to report on their tax deductions," he added.
Inspections of NGOs must be substantiated and clearly motivated. Prosecutors, FSB officers and fire inspectors should not appear at one and the same organization at the same time, - said the human rights activist. "This is a question of the competent performance of applicable laws," he said.
According to him, "one needs to think about the ways how the public and the authorities can achieve compliance with the legislation to exclude panic during such inspections," he concluded.
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