The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is urging Russia to review the law on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), where they are referred to as foreign agents, damaging the country's image.
The issue has become one of the main topics at a meeting of Russian Federation Council First Deputy Speaker Alexander Torshin and rapporteurs of the PACE's Monitoring Committee Theodora Bakoyannis and Andreas Gross.
"We are urging Russia to think about amending the law on NGOs as foreign agents because this law is tarnishing the positive image of Russia, and the international community has the impression that due to this law NGOs are subject to persecution in Russia", Bakoyannis said. There are not so many spies in Moscow and even if there were, they are definitely not in NGOs, she said.
First deputy head of the Russian Federation Council committee on constitutional legislation, Alexei Alexandrov, said in response that European parliamentarians often gave biased evaluations of events in Russia.
"Russia is a young democracy. Of course, we have issues with human rights, we are aware of this and are trying to rectify the situation. But in response we hear unfair and improper criticisms, in particular, referring to the Pussy Riot case, passing the Magnitsky list and a number of other actions," Alexandrov said.
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