Russian offices of international human rights organizations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, will not adjust their activity under the Russian law on unwelcome organizations.
"Definitely, we are more uncomfortable now. This law is bad news for us and any other foreign organization operating in Russia," Human Rights Watch program director Tatiana Lokshina told Interfax on May 25.
"We are not going to make any adjustments to our activity. We believe that the issues we are working on are vital. The methods we apply in our work and research are universal for the entire organization and they are not subject to alteration," she said.
"From our point of view, this law is not about us but rather about our Russian partners, Russian civil organizations. There is no need to adopt a law on unwelcome organizations to shut down Human Rights Watch. The Justice Ministry can do so at any moment as regards any international organization which has an office in Russia," Lokshina said.
Head of the Amnesty International Russian office Sergei Nikitin shared her opinion.
"It is not planned to change the work of the Amnesty International office in Russia in the context of the new law," he told Interfax on May 25.
"The law says that foreign international organizations undermining various fundamentals and integrity of the country and endangering its constitutional system will be prosecuted. Neither the first, nor the second, nor the third thing is a subject of the Amnesty International Activity. We are an independent international organization, and we have never planned to undermine any fundamentals or values," Nikitin said.
"We feel perfectly fine about this law. Our position is well known: this law applies extremely vague notions; it is a blow on civil society and public organizations, not only foreign and international but also Russian," he stated.
Russia's veteran rights campaigner and leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva fears that the law on objectionable organizations will impact the work of the Russian representative offices of the rights organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
"I am sure the law targets organizations that are not covered yet by the law on foreign agents. I hope the International Committee of the Red Cross will not be affected. It is a very quiet organization. As to Human Rights Watch, or Amnesty International, one of their duties is that of monitoring the observance of citizens' rights and liberties, and they often release critical reports which annoy many," Alexeyeva said.
The signing of the law on unwelcome foreign and international organizations was announced on Saturday night. The law said that foreign or international organizations posing a threat to fundamentals of the Russian constitutional system, defense capacity or security could be declared unwelcome. The law gives the Russian prosecutor general and his deputies the right to ban Russian programs and projects of unwelcome organizations. The ban must be imposed with the consent of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
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