Washington Voices Concern over Russia’s NGO Bill

Washington Voices Concern over Russia’s NGO Bill
# 12 July 2012 04:47 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. The United States has voiced its concern over a controversial Russian bill that would force non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded from abroad and engaged in political activity to declare themselves “foreign agents,” Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, said, APA reports quoting RIA Novosti.

“We believe that people everywhere should enjoy the same fundamental freedoms and universal human rights,” Ventrell told a daily press briefing. “The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to be heard and have a voice in government. That’s why we’ve raised our concerns about the potential passage of this new NGO legislation.”

Under the new bill, which was approved by the State Duma in its first reading on Friday, NGOs would have to publish a biannual report of their activities and carry out an annual financial audit. Failure to comply with the law could result in four-year jail sentences and/or fines of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,200).

Those engaged in political activity and funded from abroad will be labeled “foreign agents,” a term synonymous with spying and treason in the Soviet era, which has already met fierce criticism from human rights groups.
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