Russian laws on NGOs should be reconsidered - Council of Europe Commissioner

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks said it was necessary for Russia to reconsider the current legislation on non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks said it was necessary for Russia to reconsider the current legislation on non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The main conclusion drawn is that the Russian legislation on NGOs should be comprehensively reevaluated, Muiznieks said in an interview with Kommersant newspaper that was published on Tuesday.

Muiznieks' report, in which the situation faced by Russian NGOs was analyzed, has just been published.

First, equal conditions should be created for organizations receiving foreign fundign and those that do not have external sources of income, Muiznieks said.

The current convoluted legislature regarding who is to regulate the work of NGOs should be eliminated and a single state institution should control this, Muiznieks said.

It is also necessary to clearly determine the grounds on which a NGO's activities should be stopped, and, according to the global standards, there are three - bankruptcy, long-term lack of action and serious offenses, Muiznieks said.

The term "foreign agent" raises concern and it should be removed from the law and the term "political activities" is too vague, which leads to arbitrary interpretations of the law, Muiznieks said.

A number of the latest legislative initiatives have had a chilling effect, in particular those that have limited the freedom of associations, causing the situation to deteriorate considerably in the recent years, Muiznieks said.

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