Norway Expresses Concern over Russian Law on NGOs

Photo : 2YANA. Helge Lund, CEO, Statoil, President-elect of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin and Eduard Khudainatov, CEO, Rosneft. Photo: Courtesy of prime minister press office

– From the Norwegian side, we expect the Russian authorities to follow up the commitments it has undertaken as a member of international organizations like the Council of Europe and OSCE. A viable, non-profit sector is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy, says State Secretary Gry Larsen.

On July 13 , 2012, the Russian Duma adopted the law On 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 ( “the new law”).  The new law will require all non-commercial organizations (NCOs) to register with a specially authorized governmental body prior to receipt of funding from any foreign sources if they intend to conduct political activities. Such NCOs are to be called “NCOs carrying functions of a foreign agent.” It is expected that the new law will soon be considered by the Soviet of Federations and then be submitted to President Putin for signature shortly thereafter.

If signed off by President Putin – expected to be a formality – the law, will place a significant financial and administrative burden on Russian NGOs (Non-government organisations) receiving funding from overseas when it comes into force in four months.

Failure to register as organizations “performing the functions of foreign agents” could result in fines of up to 300,000 rubles (£6,000; $9,000) or even a prison sentence of up to two years.

Norwegian authorities think that the changes are contrary to human rights and civil society rules.

– An important part of our bilateral relationship is the open collaboration that takes place under the auspices of the Norwegian and Russian civil society organizations. We assume that this will continue, said the Secretary of State.

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