On 22 September 2015, the Public Verdict Foundation supported by the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum and the Civic Solidarity Platform organised the Side Event "Crackdown on Civil Society in Russia" at the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw (Poland). The event was attended by more than 50 people including representatives of official delegations from the OSCE member states as well as national and international civil society organisations.
‘In the course of last years, there was a bunch of legislation acts adopted in the Russian Federation, which significantly limit fundamental rights and freedoms. A part of these laws directly relates to guarantees for freedom of association, – noted Natalia Taubina, Director at the Public Verdict Foundation (Russia), member of the Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. – First of all, I mean introduction of such institutions as a nonprofit organisation executing a "foreign agent" function and an undesirable international or foreign non-governmental organisation. The inclusion on the list of "foreign agents" or "undesirable organisations" lead to significant limitations and sometimes to a complete ban of activities, considerable fines, and risk of a criminal persecution.’
Apart from Natalia Taubina, the discussion was attended by Konstantin Baranov (International Youth Human Rights Movement, Russia), Stefan Melle (German-Russian Exchange, member of the Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Germany), and human rights defender Andrei Yurov (Russia). Moderator of the discussion was Simon Papuashvili (International Partnership for Human Rights, member of the Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Belgium).
Speakers reported on the enforcement of laws on "foreign agents" and "undesirable organisations" as well as on how these practices affect both persecuted organisations and the state of the civil society in general. Besides, they drew attention to other forms of pressure on civic activists, particularly through application of articles of criminal and administrative law as well as direct physical assaults.  A separate topic was negative impact of those laws on  cooperation opportunities with civil societies from the EU countries. Finally, a representative from Kyrgyzstan expressed his concern on influence of Russian circumstances on neighbouring states, particularly attempts to adopt a "foreign agents" law in his country – an exact copy of the Russian legislation act.
After the remarks by the speakers, representatives of civil societies from different countries and OSCE delegations joined in the lively discussion.
Report on the state of the civil society in the Russian Federation is available here.