Duma deputy Yevgeny Fedorov (United Russia party) wants the law on foreign agents amended to stop NGOs registered as foreign agents from paying staff salaries out of foreign funding. He says that this will show how many such NGOs are willing despite such a ban to continue their work out of commitment to their cause, Izvestia reported. It would force them to treat their activity as a hobby and find paid work elsewhere.
A member of the board of “Memorial”, Aleksandr Cherkasov, said that its staff have no time for other work. He said anyone who makes such a proposal has no idea what NGOs are. Even Memorial’s lawyers don’t have time for other work as they are seeing people all day long.
International practice does not forbid NGOs to use funds for administrative costs or salaries, said Darya Miloslavskaya from the agency “Lawyers for Civil Society”. Only charities have such limitations, but to the extent that there is a percentage limit to how much of their means they use for salaries, and not according to the source of the funding .
The director of the Foundation “Social Verdict”, Natalya Taubinaya, thought the deputy’s idea lacked any common sense, and constituted blatant interference in the freedom of NGOs and in their internal regulations. It would be unacceptable, both under the Russian Constitution and according to international conventions. Maybe Mr Fedorov would do better to regulate the sources of income of Duma members, rather than that of NGOs, she suggested.
Author: Georgy Ivanushkin