New Draft Law Restricts Activities of Non-Governmental Organizations in Russia

11 November 2005

The draft Law “On Introducing Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation“ (hereinafter “Draft Law”) was introduced to the Parliament of the Russian Federation (Duma) on November 8, 2005, by a group of deputies belonging to the following factions: “United Russia,” “Motherland,” LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) and CPRF (Communist Party of Russian Federation).

The Draft Law, if enacted, will lead to the oppression of citizen activism, the closure of many Russian NGOs, the departure of foreign NGOs, the termination of foreign funding to many socially critical projects, and, overall, to a reversal of democracy in Russia. Civil society representatives, through appeals, letters, and expert opinions have raised these and other serious concerns about the draft law. On November 10th, a group of Russian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) published an open appeal requesting the withdrawal of the Draft Law and stating the negative consequences that the Draft Law would cause, if adopted. As of November 20th, hundreds of Russian NGOs had already signed this appeal. On November 8th, the Russian Donors’ Forum published an appeal protesting the proposed Draft Law. In addition, on November 15th, 21 members of the Russian Public Chamber signed a letter requesting the postponement of consideration of the Draft Law by the Duma until January 2006, when the Public Chamber will be completely formed and able to organize public debates on the Draft Law. The Public Chamber members also emphasized the detrimental effect that the Draft Law would have on Russian civil society, if adopted in its current version. The Draft Law has also caused consternation among international organizations represented in the Russian Federation.