Russia’s Upper House Approves First List of 12 ‘Undesirable’ Foreign Organisations

In less than a month since the passing of a controversial law on “Undesirable Foreign and International Organisations” the Russian authorities have now taken steps towards banning 12 overseas organisations. Many of the organisations contained on the list consist of prominent US based organisations. Under the law they are deemed “to pose a threat to the foundation of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, the defense capability of the country or the security of the state”.

In a previous interview back in June 2015 with Natalia Sokolova, Executive Director of Memorial and long-term partner of Civil Rights Defenders we previous asked her how the law on “Undesirable Foreign and International Organisations” would impact Memorial and civil society at large in Russia. Many of the answers given now mirror the reality of what is currently taking place. The law is intent on isolating civil society and the people of Russia from the rest of the world.

On July 08th The Federation Council, Russia’s upper parliament, formally asked the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Foreign Ministry, and the Justice Ministry to closely monitor the operations of all the listed organisations with a view to possibly declaring them ”undesirable” and shutting them down.

”This loosely worded legislation could potentially be used against almost any civil society organisation further alienating them from international support. It is part of the regime’s orchestrated campaign to supress all dissident voices that has been going on since 2012,” said Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eurasia, Civil Right Defenders.

“The fall out from this law will have a potentially devastating impact on human rights defenders, and we urge the international community to step up the pressure on Russia to have this draconian law revoked,” said Joanna Kurosz.

Seven of the organisations are said to be to be linked to the USA, two to Poland and a further three to Ukraine. The organisations thought to be contained on the list which is yet to be confirmed as definite are:

USA Based:

  • Soros Fund’s
  • Open Society Institute,
  • the National Endowment for Democracy,
  • the International Republican Institute,
  • the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs,
  • the MacArthur Foundation,
  • Freedom House
  • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation,

Polish Based:

  • Education for Democracy foundation
  • East European Democratic Centre

Ukrainian Based:

  • the Ukrainian World Congress,
  • the Ukrainian World Coordinating Council
  • the Crimean Field Mission on Human Rights

Effect of the Foreign Agents Law on Civil Rights Defenders’ Partner.

In a separate incident on the 8 July 2015 the Nizhny Novgorod regional court dismissed the appeal of Civil Rights Defenders partner the Interregional Committee Against Torture against its registration by the Ministry of Justice as a “foreign agent”. Following this decision, the chairperson of the Committee, Mr Igor Kalyapin, declared that the organisation intends to launch the closure procedure. CAT has been included in the “Foreign Agents” register since January 2015.