MOSCOW, June 4 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian government’s legislative commission has endorsed a bill setting out rules for random checks of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by the country’s Justice Ministry, the government’s press service said on Tuesday.
“The bill has been drafted to provide additional grounds for the Russian Justice Ministry to carry out unscheduled checks of NGOs which are known to have failed to comply with the requirements of Russian law,” the statement said. The bill will be considered by the government at a later date.
Nationwide inspections of NGOs have been taking place in Russia since March. The Justice Ministry said the goal was to check if their activities were in line with legislation and corresponded with the objectives of their charters.
Many observers have linked them to a new law introduced last November which tightens control on NGOs and obliges those that are engaged in political activity and receive foreign funding to register as “foreign agents.”
The NGO community in Russia has resisted the law, with many organizations refusing to register as “foreign agents,” claiming it will force them to close down.
The law has already been used against polling organizations, wildlife sanctuary trusts and public health support NGOs.
The govenrment insists the law is a necessary measure to prevent foreign meddling in Russia’s public life.
(Updated at 11:42 to change headline and text throughout to say legislative commission, not committee).