Russia: new list of 12 'undesirable' NGOs is part of move to suffocate free expression

An activist in Moscow protests with a mannequin to highlight a law that prohibits more than one person from protesting © Amnesty International
‘This list is yet another move to suffocate freedom of expression and association in Russia’ - John Dalhuisen
 
A new move by the Russian Parliament to outlaw so-called “undesirable” organisations is yet another nail in the coffin for freedom of expression and civil society in Russia, said Amnesty International today. 
 
The submission by the Council of the Federation, Parliament’s upper house, of a list of 12 foreign NGOs working in Russia to the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry, may lead to them being banned as “undesirable” under a law adopted in May. “Undesirable” organisations” are loosely defined under the law as those posing a threat to the country’s “constitutional order, defence potential or state security”. 
 
Among the organisations listed are the Crimean Field Mission on Human Rights, Freedom House, two organisations working with the Ukrainian diasporas around the world, and several foundations that provide funding and support to civil society initiatives in Russia. 
 
Spokespeople for Parliament’s upper house, the Council of the Federation, have indicated that the list is neither final nor exhaustive. They have justified the move with the claim that the current “unprecedented scale” of funding of “political activities” by NGOs from foreign sources constitutes a “soft aggression” against Russia and its people.
 
Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director John Dalhuisen said:
 
“The submission of this list is yet another move to suffocate freedom of expression and association in Russia, and its intended targets are not just foreign organisations but independent civil society in the country itself.
 
“NGOs, both Russian and foreign, are already closely monitored, and sufficient legal mechanisms already exist to tackle any organisations which may be engaged in unlawful activities.
 
“This is an unwarranted and unnecessary tactic aimed at ending the legitimate activities of those engaged in work at odds with the Russian authorities.”
 

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