Russian Justice Ministry: Law on foreign agents to help authorities control foreign financial flows to Russian NGOs

The law on foreign agents will help the Russian authorities more effectively control financial flows coming to Russian NGOs from abroad, Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said.

"Rosfinmonitoring will now have much more powers and, therefore, duties to control money flows. This also involves the declaration of funds and specific forms of control. Of course, we will use all this information and it will lead to some forms of reaction, from warnings to lawsuits seeking the liquidation of a specific organization," the minister told reporters in Stavropol following a coordination meeting in the Justice Ministry's main department for the Stavropol Territory.

Konovalov said the state now cannot say it has "complete information on the financing of all NGOs existing in Russia in an illegal or semi-legal format."

"Moreover, in many cases public activities are not financed according to the law and are financed without the creation of a legal entity at all. Essentially, we do not have legal opportunities to evaluate such groups' activities because they do not wish to register as NGOs," Konovalov said.

According to the information announced by the Prosecutor General's Office Department for the Northern Caucasus Military District at the coordination meeting, 1,800 NGOs are registered on the territory of the Northern Caucasus Military District, of which over 20 engage in religious activities. In 2011 alone, Chechnya's NGOs received 97 million rubles from abroad and NGOs operating in Ingushetia received over 91 million rubles from abroad. The prosecutors are now working to determine how this money was spent.

The federal law "On Changes to Some Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Regulating the Activities of Non-Governmental Organizations," also known as the law on foreign agents, will become effective on Nov. 20.

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