On April 1, 2020, a new law gave the prime minister the power to declare a nationwide state of emergency on account of “the spread of a disease that poses danger to others” and to establish mandatory rules of conduct. In addition, the law provided that elections and referenda may be postponed when a state of emergency is in effect. On the same day, amendments to Russia’s Criminal Code established new penalties for violations of quarantine orders and provided that public dissemination of false information that threatens the public health during an emergency is punishable by 3 years in prison, or up to 5 years if it leads to “grave consequences.”
In addition, March-April 2020 was marked by two main events:
- NCOs’ situation worsened drastically, mostly financially, and put a great majority of small regional NCOs in the Russian Federation on the edge of survival. Due to the “self-isolation” regime introduced finally in all the Russian regions, NCOs had to switch to remote work which generally limited the ability to provide public benefit services to the most vulnerable segments of the population – elderly and disabled people, children, and the homeless. In this situation, many NCOs were considering liquidating voluntarily in the subsuqent months.
- The adoption of presidential amendments to the Russian constitution that should have been approved by nationwide vote scheduled for April 22, 2020. The spread of COVID-19 caused the President to postpone the vote, and no specific date for the vote has been re-scheduled so far. Nevertheless, a mass campaign supporting adoption of the whole package of amendments as a single document (including controversial provisions, such as the supremacy of the Russian Constitution over decisions of international bodies, which creates the possibility for the President to stay in power until 2036, among others) continue even during the pandemic, with federal and regional authorities repeatedly pushing the need for their nationwide approval.
For more details, see the ICNL COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker’s entry for Russia.
Since 2012, a number of restrictive laws have been enacted in Russia. For example, on July 20, 2012, Russia enacted the Federal Law Introducing Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Regarding the Regulation of Activities of Non-commercial Organizations Performing the Function of Foreign Agents, which came into effect on November 21, 2012. The law requires all non-commercial organizations (NCOs) to register in the registry of NCOs, which is maintained by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), prior to receipt of funding from any foreign sources if they intend to conduct political activities. Such NCOs are called “NCOs performing functions of a foreign agent.” As of April 30, 2020, the Registry of NCOs Performing Functions of Foreign Agents included 190 entries/records (one was duplicated) of NCOs with 29 of them registered voluntarily (mostly because of considerable administrative penalties). 119 NCOs were exempted from the Registry (75 due to their liquidation and 45 due to ceasing to perform the functions of a foreign agent).
The Federal Law of March 8, 2015 specified the grounds and procedure for exclusion from the register of NCOs performing functions of a foreign agent. On January 23, 2017, the Foreign Agents Registry was changed. It now contains only entries on “active” NCO-FAs column; the “Exemption from the Register” column is now empty. It seems that the MoJ yielded to the urging of NCOs which were removed from the FA Registry (after ceasing the functions of a foreign agent) to remove all information about these organizations.
On December 21, 2012, the Duma adopted amendments to the Dima Yakovlev law (the Federal Law 272-FZ on Measures of Influence of Persons Relating to Violation of Basic Human Rights and Freedoms of Citizens of the Russian Federation). The new law also contains a number of provisions further restricting activities of NCOs, including the following:
- Activities of NCOs participating in political activities or implementing other activities constituting a threat to the interests of Russia and receiving funds from US citizens or organizations shall be suspended and their assets seized (the Ministry of Justice may issue a decision to restart activities of an NCO whose activity was previously suspended after the NCO stops receiving funding from US citizens or organizations).
- Citizens with US-Russian dual citizenship are prohibited from membership or participation in the management of Russian NCOs or registered offices of foreign NCOs that participate in political activities in Russia.
- In case of the seizure of assets of an NCO, the NCO also loses its rights to found mass media outlets and is prohibited from conducting mass and public events and from using bank accounts, with a few exceptions outlined in the Federal Law on NCOs.
On May 23, 2014, President Putin signed Federal Law No. 129-FZ on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation, which affects foreign and international NCOs and their partners in Russia (“the Law on Undesirable Organizations”). The Law on Undesirable Organizations introduced changes to a number of Russian laws, including the Dima Yakovlev Law, the Code of Administrative Offenses, Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, and the Law on the Procedure of Exit from the Russian Federation and Entry into the Russian Federation.
According to the Law on Undesirable Organizations, a foreign or international NCO can be declared “undesirable” by the Prosecutor General or the Prosecutor General’s deputies if they decide that the NCO is a threat to national security. Activities of “undesirable” organizations in Russia are prohibited, and all persons participating in such activities are subject to administrative and criminal penalties. Since its adoption, the Law on Undesirable Organizations has been amended on a number of occasions by:
- expanding the list of prohibited activities for undesirable international and foreign NCOs, by adding a fifth activity, which is “a ban on the creation in the territory of the Russian Federation of legal entities or participation in them” (by Federal Law of March 28, 2017 No. 35-FZ); and
- expanding the list of grounds for recognizing the activities of a foreign or international non-governmental organization as “undesirable” in the territory of the Russian Federation with the following: if it “facilitates or hinders the nomination of candidates, lists of candidates, the election of registered candidates, the initiative of holding a referendum and holding a referendum, the achievement of a certain result in elections, referendum, as well as in other forms (except for participation in election campaigns, referendum campaigns as foreign (international) observers)” (by Federal Law No. 555-FZ of December 27, 2018).
As of April 30, 2020, the Registry of “Undesirable Organizations” included 22 organizations: National Endowment for Democracy (July 29, 2015); OSI Assistance Foundation and Open Society Foundation (December 1, 2015); U.S. Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (December 7, 2015); National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (May 17, 2016); Media Development Investment Fund Inc. (August 22, 2016), International Republican Institute (August 22, 2016), Open Russia (April 27, 2017), Institute of Modern Russia (April 27, 2017), Open Russia Civic Movement (April 27, 2017), the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation (July 3, 2017); European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) (March 13, 2018); International elections study center (IESC) (March 13, 2018); the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) (March 21, 2018); Pacific Environment (PERC) (August 28, 2018); Free Russia Foundation (June 28, 2019); Ukrainian World Congress (July 17, 2019); the Atlantic Council (July 29, 2019); Člověk v tísni, o.p.s (People In Need) (Czech Republic) (November 12, 2019); European Endowment for Democracy (Belgium) (March 12, 2020); The Jamestown foundation (JF), (the United States of America); The Jamestown foundation (USA) (April 9, 2020); and Project Harmony, Inc. (PH International) (USA) (April 23, 2020).
Two other federal laws came into force on January 1, 2017: Federal Law No. 287-FZ on Amending Federal Law on NCOs in Terms of Establishing the Status of NCO–Provider of Public Benefit Services (PPBS); and Federal Law No. 449-FZ on Amendments to Article 31-1 of the Federal Law on NCOs (in Terms of Specification of Measures of Support of Socially Oriented NCO–PPBS by the Public Authorities and Local Self-Government). Both of these laws have provisions that could benefit civil society if implemented properly. However, it remains to be seen how these laws will be implemented.
The long-discussed Federal Law of March 7, 2017 No. 27-FZ on Amendments to the Federal Law on the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation entered into force on March 17, 2017. The adoption of this law is undoubtedly positive for all legal entities. The essence of the law’s purpose is to create a legal regulation of the powers of the Prosecutor General in conducting inspections of NCOs and other organizations. Key new aspects of this law include the following: the term of the prosecutor’s inspection is 30 calendar days; time limits for the submission of information at the request of the prosecutor is five working days and in case of inspection it is two working days; the prosecutor presents the results of the inspection to the inspected organization; and there are also restrictions on the information that may be requested from the inspected entity (there is ban on requesting information previously published on the Internet or in the media that is not relevant to the subject of inspection).
On November 25, 2017, Federal Law No. 327-FZ on Amendments to Articles 10.4 and 15.3 of the Federal Law on Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information and Article 6 of the Law on Mass Media came into force. The law introduces recognition of foreign media as “foreign agents” and expands the list of reasons for extrajudicial restrictions on access to information resources on the internet. In addition to the list of existing grounds for blocking websites, such as for appealing for mass riots, extremist activities, and participation in mass (public) events held in violation of the established order, it allows for the blocking of websites with materials published or disseminated by “undesirable” foreign organizations as well as all data that allows someone to access these materials. As of April 30, 2020, the Ministry of Justice’s register of media outlets deemed “foreign agents” includes eleven entries, of which nine of them were included on December 5, 2017: “Voice of America”; “Idel.Реалии”; “Кавказ.Реалии”; “Крым.Реалии”; TV Channel “Настоящее Время”; the Tatar-Bashkir Service of Radio Liberty (Azatliq Radiosi); Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL); “Сибирь. Реалии”; and “Фактограф”. The other two are “Север.Реалии” (included in the register on November 15, 2019 and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) LLC – a Russian entity established in compliance with the law (included on February 11, 2020).
On October 22, 2018, Federal Law No. 362-FZ of October 11, 2018 on Amending Article 5 of the Federal law on Anti-Corruption Expert Review of Normative Legal Acts and Drafts of Normative Legal entered into force. The law limits the number of categories of individuals and legal entities which can obtain official status as an independent expert accredited by the MoJ. In particular, the law establishes a ban on conducting independent anti-corruption expert review of normative legal acts and drafts of normative legal acts by international and foreign organizations, as well as NCOs performing the functions of a foreign agent.
Three federal laws that do not specifically affect NCOs’ activities but rather restrict freedom of assembly were adopted between October and December 2018.
- Federal Law No. 367-FZ of October 11, 2018, on Amendments to Articles 5 and 10 of the Federal Law on Meetings, Rallies, Processions and Pickets entered into force on October 22, 2018. According to the new law, the organizer of a public event is obligated to inform citizens and provide a written notification to the government about the cancellation of a public event no later than one day prior to its scheduled date. This requirement may be difficult to fulfill, as there are many instances when organizers of public events are forced to cancel an event due to last minute disruptions not dependent on the organizers, such as denial of premise rental an hour before the meeting.
- Federal Law No. 377-FZ of October 30, 2018, on Amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses entered into force on November 11, 2018. The Code of Administrative Offenses is supplemented by Article 20.23, which provides for administrative liability for the organizer of a public event not fulfilling its obligations to inform citizens and government bodies about a decision to cancel the public event, as well as for filing a notification for holding a public event without indicating its purpose.
- Federal Law No. 557-FZ of December 27, 2018 on Amending Article 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation entered into force on January 8, 2019. The law establishes administrative liability for the involvement of minors in unauthorized public events.
In addition, on May 1, 2019, the Federal law No. 90-FZ on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation (in terms of ensuring the safe and sustainable functioning of the Internet in the territory of the Russian Federation) was signed by the President of the Russian Federation. In accordance with the text of the law, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) provides operators and owners of traffic exchange points with free of charge technical means of countering threats to the stability, security and integrity of the functioning of the internet information and telecommunications network and the public communication network in the territory of the Russian Federation. In addition, in the case of detection of such threats (the list of which will be subsequently determined by the Government of the Russian Federation), the Federal Service assumes the centralized management of the public communication network and (or) issues the instructions to ensure functioning of the internet network for operators of communication which are obligatory for execution. However, in Russia, a national system of domain names will be created, and an operator established.
Other restrictive laws were adopted at the end of 2019, they include in particular:
- Federal Law No. 407-FZ of December 2, 2019 on Amending Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation with the purpose of establishing a prohibition to act as a founder (member, participant) of a non-commercial organization on persons with respect to whom a decision is adopted to freeze (block) funds or other property in connection with sufficient grounds to suspect them of involvement into terrorist activities.According to this law, individuals having their assets frozen because of terrorism allegations would be banned from being founders, participants, or members of NCOs. These amendments, according to the Government, would help secure the not-for-profit sector against abuse for financing terrorist activities. However, the criteria for making a decision on the freezing (blocking) of funds or other property in connection with sufficient reasons to suspect involvement in terrorist activities are not specified, making arbitrary application of the law possible. The law came into force on December 13, 2019.
- Federal Law No. 426-FZ of December 2, 2019 on Amending the Law of the Russian Federation on the Mass Media and the Federal Law on Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information. The so-called law on “individual-foreign agents” cameinto force on December 2, 2019. Additionally, all media recognized as FAs (including individuals recognized as media-FAs) must establish a Russian legal entity by February 1, 2020. The law extends the rules on the activities of foreign mass media performing the functions of a foreign agent (mass media-FA) and (NCO-FA) to individuals and commercial organizations. In accordance with the adopted amendments, in order to recognize an individual as a “mass media-FA,” two characteristics are required:
- Distribution of printed, audio, audio-visual and other messages and materials intended for an unlimited number of persons (including using the Internet information and telecommunications network»); and
- Receipt of funds and (or) other property from foreign states, their state bodies, international and foreign organizations, foreign citizens, stateless persons or persons authorized by them, and (or) from Russianlegal entities that receive funds and (or) other property from these sources.
The decision to recognize an individual as a mass media-FA is made by the MoJ in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
After an individual is recognized as a mass media-FA, it is obliged to:
- establish a Russianlegal entity or notify the MoJ of all previously established legal entities within one month from the date of recognition as a “mass media-FA.” Information about these legal entities is also subject to inclusion in the Register of mass media-FAs, and they acquire the status of “Russian legal entity performing the functions of a foreign agent”;
- label messages and materials distributed in the territory of Russiaindicating that these messages and materials are created and/o) distributed by a “mass media-FA”; and
- comply with the requirements of the NCO law in the part that must be determined by a special act of the MoJ to be issued in accordance with this law.
The obligation to establish a legal entity forces an individual to incur financial costs associated with its registration (legal services, payment of state duty), and opening and maintaining a bank account.
The legislative procedure for notifying of an individual on recognition of their status as a “mass media-FA” by the MoJ is not fixed in the law. In fact, all individuals are at risk of administrative penalties (a fine of 10,000 rubles) if they do not keep track of the Register of foreign media-FAs and do not learn about their recognition as a “mass media-FA” and accordingly, do not fulfill the requirements of the law on establishing a legal entity and labeling materials.
The procedure for removing an individual from the Register of mass media-FAs is also not regulated by the law, as it mentions only the MoJ’s right to include information about an individual in the corresponding Register and to exclude it.
- The adoption of the previous law was followed by the adoption of the Federal law No. 443-FZ of December 16, 2019 on Amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses (CoAO)(on establishing liability for violation of the procedure for the activity of a foreign media outlet). The law proposes to impose fines as high as 5,000,000 rubles ($81,300) for repeated violations of media laws related to “foreign agents.” First-time offenses carry smaller penalties: “foreign agent” news outlets will face fines as high as 1,000,000 rubles ($16,260) and individual “foreign agents” could be forced to pay as much as 10,000 rubles ($163). The law comes into force on February 1, 2020.
However, some positive changes should be also mentioned, mostly related to the Concept on Support for Development of Charitable Activities was adopted by the Order of the Government of the Russian Federation of November 15, 2019 No. 2705-r. The main directions of promoting charity development in the Concept are the following:
- promoting the development of charity institutions;
- promoting the development of charity for individuals and commercial organizations;
- promoting the development of culture of charity;
- promoting the development of support for charity in the regions of Russia; and
- promoting the development of international activities in the field of charity.
One of the main results of the Concept’s implementation should be a change in the legislative regulation of charitable activities, for example:
- improving regulation of the formation of endowments;
- enabling charitable organizations to repay a loan using donations, and setting a limit on the amount of interest on a loan that can be paid using donations;
- ensuring effective prevention and suppression of fraudulent activities conducted under the disguise of collecting charitable donations;
- removing the need for charities to submit duplicate reports to state authorities; and
- developing proposals for improving regulation and law enforcement practice in the field of government control over charitable NCOs’ management bodies when making large transactions and transactions with interest.
During implementation of the Concept, issues around establishing additional tax benefits and cases of exemption from taxation will be worked out. The Concept also envisions development of a training system for NCOs and a support system for newly created organizations. In the field of the development of international charitable activities, the Concept’s implementers (Government of the Russian Federation) plan to promote the work of Russian charitable organizations abroad and build global cooperation.
In addition, the following positive laws were adopted during the first quarter of 2020:
- Federal law No. 60-FZ of March 18, 2020, on Amendments to Articles 2 and 31-4 of the Federal Law on NCOswas submitted to the State Duma on October 22, 2019, by the Government of the Russian Federation. The law establishes a new basis for including SONCOs in the Register of SONCO-providers of public benefit services – “proper implementation of projects that provide the implementation of activities in one or more priority areas in the sphere of providing public benefit services using grants from the President of Russia aimed at the development of civil society.” The evaluation of such projects’ results will be carried out by an organization authorized to provide grants from the President of the Russian Federation – the Presidential Grants Fund. Evaluated SONCOs will not need to obtain additional opinions on the quality of services they provided.
- Federal law 113-FZ of April 4, 2020 on Amendments to the Federal law on Charitable Activities and Volunteeringwas submitted to the State Duma by a group of deputies on April 13, 2018. The law provides for the definition of the concept of a “box for collecting donations:” “a box for collection of donations – any capacity (including a device) for collection of donations, the right to use of which belongs exclusively to NCOs, whose bylaws provide for the right to carry out charitable activities.” The law also provides for two types of boxes: portable and stationary. Installation and use of stationary boxes are allowed on the basis of an agreement with the owner (user) of the premises, except when they are installed by relevant NCOs during public events organized by them (or their associations) or with written permission from the organizers of a public event. The use of a portable box is allowed during a public event if there is a document from the organizer of the event. Requirements for boxes, and the procedure for their installation and use should be determined by the regulatory act of the Government of the Russian Federation. The adoption of this law will improve the NCO legal environment as presently collecting cash donations is not regulated, and therefore, de facto not permitted by law (while the cash collections are not specifically prohibited by law, they would violate multiple other legal rules, subject to penalties). It also sets rules protecting NCOs from abuse by criminals who “fundraise” from the public under the guise of and legitimate NCOs. The law will come into force 180 days after its official publication.
|Organizational Forms||(1) Corporate entities, which are those where founders (participants, members) have the right to participate in their management (that is, they gain the right of membership), including consumer cooperatives, public organizations, associations (unions), political parties, and trade unions.|
(2) Unitary entities are those where founders may not become participants (they do not acquire the right of membership), including public charitable funds, private institutions, autonomous non-commercial organizations, and religious organizations.
|Registration Body||Ministry of Justice|
|Approximate Number||215,174 as of October 31, 2019 (according to the Ministry of Justice)|
|Barriers to Entry||Certain persons, including foreign persons and stateless persons, may not become founders, members, or participants.|
Registration procedures are overly bureaucratic, with excessive documentation requirements. Expanded justifications for unscheduled state audits. Compulsory inclusion into the Registry of NCOs Foreign Agents by the Ministry of Justice.
|Barriers to Activities||Burdensome reporting requirements. Supervisory power allowing for interference with internal affairs of public associations and NCOs.|
Expanded justifications for unscheduled state audits.
Compulsory inclusion into the Registry of NCO Performing Functions of Foreign Agents by the Ministry of Justice.
Activities of NCOs participating in political activities or implementing other activities constituting threat to the interests of Russia and receiving funds from US citizens or organizations shall be suspended and their assets seized.
Prohibition of all transactions involving finances or other assets to which an “undesirable organization” is party.
Prohibition on distributing information materials issued by an undesirable organization, and/or disseminated thereby, including through the media and/or with the use of the Internet and telecommunication network, as well as to produce or possess them for purposes of distribution.
Prohibition for an undesirable organization to implement programs (projects) in the territory of the Russian Federation, and for individuals and entities to engage in such activities on the territory of the Russian Federation.
Prohibition for accrediting international and foreign organizations as well as NCOs performing the functions of a foreign agent (FA) as independent experts who can prepare a special anti-corruption expert review of draft laws and other legal acts.
|Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy||Potential restrictions against NCO advocacy activity may arise through application of criminal or administrative penalties codes.|
Advocacy activities often are considered to be equal to political activities, which may lead to their inclusion on the foreign agents registry.
|Barriers to International Contact||Criminal responsibility for “state treason” has been introduced. The term is defined as “a deed, carried out by a citizen of the Russian Federation, damaging to the security of the Russian Federation, including espionage or passing to a foreign state, international or foreign organization or their representatives information that contains a state secret that has been entrusted and became known to the person through service, work or studies or other cases determined by Russian legislation, or providing financial material, technical, consultative or other assistance directed against security of the Russian Federation.”|
Administrative and criminal penalties for participation in activities of undesirable organizations on the territory of the Russian Federation
|Barriers to Resources||Foreign or international organizations wishing to make tax-exempt grants to Russian citizens or NCOs must be on a list of organizations approved by the Russian Government; access to this list is severely limited.|
NCOs that carry out political activities and receive foreign funding are labeled “NCOs performing functions of a foreign agent.”
Individuals and entities are prohibited from receiving assets from “undesirable” organizations.
|Barriers to Assembly||Excessive force used against peaceful protesters.|
Strict regulation of public mass events.
Administrative liability when minors are involved in unauthorized public events.
Administrative liability for organizers of a public event who failed to inform citizens and government bodies about a decision to cancel the public event as well as for filing a notification for holding a public event without indicating its purpose.
|Population||146,780,720 (January 31, 2019)|
|Type of Government||Federation|
|Life Expectancy at Birth||67.51 years (male); 77.64 years (female) in 2018|
|Religious Groups||According to an August 2012 survey, Russian Orthodox represent 52%, Muslim 6.5%, 4.1% are unaffiliated Christians, 1.5% adhere to other Orthodox Churches, 1.2% are Pagans, 0.5% are Buddhists, 0.2% are Orthodox Old Believers, 0.2% are Protestants, 25% are “spiritual but not religious” people, 13% are atheist and non-religious people and 5.5% of the total population have deemed themselves “undecided”.|
|Ethnic Groups||Russian 80.90%, Tatar 3.87%, Ukrainian 1.41%, Bashkir 1.15%, Chuvash 1.05%, other or unspecified 12.1% (2010 census)|
|GDP per capita||$11,288 (2018) (World Bank)|
|Ranking Body||Rank||Ranking Scale|
(best – worst possible)
|UN Human Development Index||49 (2018)||1 – 182|
|World Bank Rule of Law Index||22 (2018)||100 – 0|
|World Bank Voice & Accountability Index||19 (2018)||100 – 0|
|Transparency International||138 (2018)||1 – 180|
|Freedom House: Freedom in the World||Status: Not Free|
Political Rights: 6
Civil Liberties: 7 (2019)
|Free/Partly Free/Not Free|
100 – 0
1 – 7
1 – 7
|Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index||73 (2019)||178 – 1|
International and Regional Human Rights Agreements
|Key International Agreements||Ratification*||Year|
|International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||Yes||1973|
|Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1)||Yes||1991|
|International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)||Yes||1973|
|Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention||Yes||1956|
|International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)||Yes||1969|
|Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)||Yes||1981 (as Soviet Union)|
|Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women||Yes||2004|
|Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)||Yes||1990|
|International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW)||No||—|
|Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)||Yes||2012|
|European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms||Yes||1998|
|Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE||Yes||1990|
* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty
** Country is a signatory to the agreement, but has not formally ratified it
The Constitution of the Russian Federation (as amended December 30, 2008;February 5, 2014; July 21, 2014) includes the following relevant provisions:
1. All people shall be equal before the law and courts.
2. The State shall guarantee the equality of rights and freedoms of man and citizen, regardless of sex, race, nationality, language, origin, property and official status, place of residence, religion, convictions, membership of public associations, and also of other circumstances. All forms of limitations of human rights on social, racial, national, linguistic or religious grounds shall be banned.
3. Men and women shall enjoy equal rights and freedoms and have equal possibilities to exercise them.
Article 28: Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of conscience, the freedom of religion, including the right to profess individually or together with others any religion or to profess no religion at all, to freely choose, possess and disseminate religious and other views and act according to them.
1. Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of ideas and speech.
2. Propaganda or agitation instigating social, racial, national or religious hatred and strife shall not be allowed. The propaganda of social, racial, national, religious or linguistic supremacy shall be banned.
3. No one may be forced to express his views and convictions or to reject them.
4. Everyone shall have the right to freely look for, receive, transmit, produce and distribute information by any legal means. The list of data comprising state secrets shall be determined by a federal law.
5. The freedom of mass communication shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be banned.
1. Everyone shall have the right to association, including the right to create trade unions for the protection of his or her interests. The freedom of activity of public association shall be guaranteed.
2. No one may be compelled to join any association and remain in it.
National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector
Relevant national-level laws and regulations affecting civil society include:
- Constitution of the Russian Federation (December 12, 1993; (as amended December 30, 2008; February 5, 2014; July 21, 2014).
- Civil Code of the Russian Federation, Part I, Federal Law No. 51-FZ, November 30, 1994 as amended.
- Civil Code of the Russian Federation, Part II, Federal Law No. 14-FZ, January 26, 1996, as amended.
- Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, July 13, 1996 N 63-FZ as amended
- Code of Administrative Penalties, December 30, 2001 N 195-FZ, as amended
- Tax Code of the Russian Federation, Part II, Federal Law No. 118-FZ, August 5, 2000, as amended.[Excerpts]
- Federal Law No. 7-FZ, “On Non-Commercial Organizations,” January 12, 1996, as amended (NCO Law).
- Federal Law No. 135-FZ, “On Charitable Activities and Charitable Organizations,” August 11, 1995, as amended (Charities Law).
- Federal Law No. 82-FZ, “On Public Associations,” May 19, 1995, as amended (Law on Public Associations).
- Federal Law No. 95-FZ, “On Gratuitous Assistance,” May 4, 1999, as amended (Law on Gratuitous Assistance).
- Federal Law No. 54-FZ “On Assemblies, Meetings, Demonstrations, Marches and Picketing,” July 19, 2004, as amended.
- Federal Law No. 275-FZ, “On the Procedure of Establishment and Use of Endowments of Non-commercial Organizations,” December 30, 2006.
- Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation # 212, “On measures aimed at implementing certain provisions of the federal laws regulating activities of non-commercial organizations,” April 15, 2006.
- Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation# 485, June 28, 2008, Regarding the list of international organizations whose grants (free aid) obtained by Russian organizations shall be tax exempt and shall be accounted for as taxable income of taxpayers – recipients of such grants
- Decree of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation #222, “On the Procedure of State Control of NCO activity (including Spending of Resources),” June 22, 2006.
- Order of the Ministry of Justice of Russia dd. November 30, 2012 № 223 “On procedure of maintaining Registry of Non-commercial Organizations, Carrying Functions of Foreign Agent
- Federal law No. 139-FZ “On Amendments to Federal Law On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development and Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation”, July 28, 2012.
- Federal Law No. 121-FZ “On Introducing Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Regarding the Regulation of Activities of Non-commercial Organizations, Performing the Functions of Foreign Agents,” July 20, 2012
- Federal Law No.149-FZ “On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection,” as amended on July 30, 2012.
- Federal Law No. 272-FZ “On Measures of Influence of Persons, Relating to Violation of Human Rights, Rights and Freedoms of Citizens of the Russian Federation,” December 28, 2012
- Federal Law No. 212-FZ of July 21, 2014, on the Basics of Public Control in the Russian Federation.
- Federal Law No. 327-FZ of November 4, 2014 on Patronage of Arts.
- Federal Law No. 67-FZ of March 30, 2015, Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation in Terms of Ensuring the Reliability of Information to be Submitted for State Registration of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs.
- Federal Law No.304-FZ of March 30, 2015 on Amendments to Articles 4.5 and 23.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation.
- Federal Law No. 76-FZ of March 30, 2016, Amending Federal Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations and Other Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation.
- Federal law No. 287-FZ of July 3, 2016, on Amending Federal Law on Non-Commercial Organizations in terms of Establishing the Status of Non-Commercial Organization – Provider of Public Benefit Services.
- Federal Law No. 375-FZ of July 6, 2016 on Making Changes into the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and into the Criminal Procedural Code of the Russian Federation in Part Establishing Additional Measures On Counteracting Terrorism and Ensuring Public Safety introduced changes to 1) the Criminal Code, 2) the Criminal Procedural Code of the Russian Federation and 3) the Federal Law dated July 27, 2006 #153-ФЗ On Introducing Changes into Separate Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation in Relating to Adoption of the Federal Law On Ratification of Convention of the Council of Europe On Prevention of Terrorism and On Federal Law On Counteracting Terrorism. (This is known as part of the “Yarovaya Package”).
- Federal Law No. 374-FZ dated July 6, 2016 On Making Changes into the Federal Law on Counteracting Terrorism and Separate Legal Acts of the Russian Federation in Part Establishing Additional Measures On Counteracting Terrorism and Ensuring Public Safety introduced changes into 18 laws, including: 1) Federal Law On Counteracting Terrorism; 2) Federal Law On Federal Security Service; 3) Federal Law On Executive Investigative Activity; 4) Federal Law On External Intelligence; 5) Federal Law on Procedure of Exiting the Russian Federation and Entering into the Russian Federation; 6) Federal Law On Weapons; 7) Air Code of the Russian Federation; 8) Federal Law On Freedom of Conscience and on Religious Associations; 8) Federal Law On Post Communication; 10) Federal Law On Counteracting Legalization (Laundering) of Income, Received by Illegal Means, and of Financing of Terrorism; 11) Code of the Russian Federation On Administrative Offenses; 12) Federal Law On Transport-Expedition Activity; 13) Federal Law On Communication; 14) Housing Code of the Russian Federation; 15) Federal Law on Information, Informational Technologies, and On Protection of Information; 16) Federal Law On Transport Safety; 17) Federal Law On the Territorial Jurisdiction of District (Naval) Military Courts ; and 18) Federal Law On the Security of the Fuel and Energy Complex. (This is known as part of the “Yarovaya Package”).
- Federal Law No. 179-FZ of June 2, 2016 on Amendments to Article 8 of the Federal Law on Public Associations and Article 2 of the Federal Law on Noncommercial Organizations (new definition of “political activity”, which is relevant because “conducting political activity” is one of the criteria for an NCO to be qualified as an organization carrying out the functions of a foreign agent under Russia’s Law on NCOs).
- Federal Law No. 487-FZ of December 12, 2016 on Amendments to Articles 4 and 8 of Federal law on Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation (returning the order of formation of the Civic Chamber that existed before 2014).
- Federal Law No. 287-FZ of July 3, 2016 on Amending Federal Law on NCOs in Terms of Establishing the Status of NCO–Provider of Public Benefit Services (PBS) (went into force on January 1, 2017).
- Federal Law No. 449-FZ of December 19, 2016 on Amendments to Article 31-1 of the Federal Law on NCOs (in Terms of Specification of Measures of Support of Socially Oriented NCOs–PBS by the Public Authorities and Local Self-Government) (went into force on January 1, 2017).
- Federal Law of March 7, 2017 No. 27-FZ, on Amendments to the Federal Law on the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation (entered into force on March 17, 2017).
- Federal Law of April 3, 2017 No. 64-FZ on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Improving the State Policy in Combating Corruption (entered into force on April 15, 2017).
- Federal Law of March 28, 2017 No. 35-FZ on Amendments to Part 3 of Article 3.1 of the Federal law No. 272-FZ of Decembe