There’s been a lot of talk recently about Russian NGO’s being given the “foreign agent” status by our prohibition-absessed government. A few of you appeared puzzled as to what the fuss is all about. I’m thus compelled to say a few words to clarify the issue.
The essence of this law, passed in July 2012, is that any NGO that both engages in “political activity” and receives money from abroad is to be branded “foreign agent”. So far such organizations as the Liberal Mission Foundation, a historical and civil rights society Memorial, and the Belonna Foundation in Murmansk, along with 60+ other groups, have been given the label.
What are the consequences of receiving this status?
First, it is demonization of the entity in question. “Foreign agent” in Russian is semantically close to “spy” or “traitor”, or the “enemy of the people”.
Government-run entities, such as schools, will refuse dealing with “foreign agent”.
Lots of doors will close because of the stigma associated with being a foreign agent.
Second, it is the increased amount of reporting burden. Extra bureaucratic hassles include
- reporting on one’s activity every half a year
- providing a list of executive members to the authorities every half a year
- a quarterly financial report
- a yearly auditing report
- publishing financial info
- putting “foreign agent” label on any materials published or distributed
Overall, the paperwork load is said to increase threefold with receiving the “foreign agent” status, which would seriously affect smaller NGOs.
In the Murmansk region the following NGOs have received a warning that they are to register as “foreign agents”:
The most recent scandal around the “foreign agent” idea is around the privately-funded Dynasty Foundation that supports science.
June 6 in Moscow will be a rally in support of the Dynasty Foundation and demanding the abolition law on “Foreign agents”
Hope the above clarifies things a bit.