The Ministry of Justice increases accountability for NGOs
NGOs are now required to account for all money and property they receive from foreign governments or their subsidiaries or representatives as well as from Russian entities who provide funding from overseas. The Ministry of Justice passed the relevant decree in August 2018 and has published the document on its internet portal.
Oksana Gordienko, a lawyer with the Agency for Public Information, explained that NGOs have always had to disclose revenue from foreign sources, but the requirement to reveal money or property received from Russian legal entities abroad is new.
Writing on her personal Facebook page, the Chairman of the Association of Lawyers for Civil Society, Dayra Miloslavskaya, said of the new decree: “In other words, from now on any kind of organisation, whether in the voluntary sector or not, that applies for government funds will have to give a statement (ideally a written one) that they do not receive any foreign money. The question is – what kind of organisation would be able to make that statement?”
One expert noted that the question of NGO accountability had been under discussion since 2016. The Association of Lawyers for Civil Society will shortly be producing a detailed analysis of the changes.
In the past the Ministry of Justice has presented the drafts of two bills relating to NGOs, one preventing them from engaging in activities deemed to be political and receiving funds from the USA, the other restricting the work of foreign-funded NGOs involved in combating the spread of HIV.