We are greatly concerned with a new bill on NGOs in the Russian parliament labelling NGOs as “foreign agents”. In a month time, this would be another law to significantly curtail fundamental freedoms following the “anti-demonstration” law adopted in early June. The new anti-NGO bill stipulates that any NGO be termed “foreign agent”, if it ever received funding from abroad, and it significantly increases the administrative burden for such an NGO. 
 
This is an unacceptable attempt to put a negative label on and ostracize Russian NGOs. As with the anti-demonstration law, this new bill has been justified with reference to international practice. This is ridiculous and wilful misrepresentation: in the countries mentioned, the respective laws have not been used to curtail citizens’ rights to peaceful association and assembly. It is positive that Russian NGOs are not barred from international donor community, especially if national sources of funding are scarce or in some areas non-existent, and it is positive that Russian NGOs have been increasingly successful in international cooperation. International donor community has channelled billions of Euros into Russia over the past decade, much of it directly to the Russian government. Does this mean that the government are foreign agents?
 
Having many long-time colleagues and friends among Russian NGOs, we support their statement. And we call on EU governments to urge Russia not to adopt this new anti-NGO bill and repeal the recent anti-demonstration legislation.
 
Steering Committee of EU-Russia Civil Society Forum