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from 1st Russian Translation
Bill Will Force All NGOs to Re-register
The State Duma is taking steps to force all Non-Governmental
Organizations (NGOs) to re-register ahead of upcoming national elections,
and NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Mikhail Khodorkovsky's Open
Russia face a very real threat of being shut down.
Remaining NGOs would be brought under close state
control, according to a bill submitted to the State Duma late Monday.
The bill, titled "Amendments to Several Laws
of the Russian Federation," appears to have a good chance of
passing because it is being sponsored by a group of deputies from
all four Duma factions.
Deputy Alexei Ostrovsky, a member of the Liberal
Democratic party and one of the bill's sponsors, said the legislation
should help the government crack down on politically active NGOs
that receive foreign funding and might use the money to promote
an Orange Revolution.
Ostrovsky linked the bill to comments made by President
Vladimir Putin during a meeting with human rights activists on July
20. Putin told the meeting that he would not tolerate foreign money
being used to finance the political activities of non-governmental
Government officials have repeatedly accused Western
countries of helping bankroll Ukraine's Orange Revolution last year
and Georgia's Rose Revolution in 2003 through NGOs, and the Kremlin
is worried that Duma elections in 2007 and the presidential vote
in 2008 could trigger a similar popular uprising.
Adding to its worries, the U.S. House of Representatives
approved a budget bill last Friday that would provide $4 million
for the development of political parties in Russia, RIA-Novosti
NGOs on Tuesday decried the Duma bill as unconstitutional
and said it attempted to silence critical voices and limit civil
"It would be used as a tool against NGOs that
criticize the government's policy," said Alexander Petrov,
head of the Moscow office of New York-based Human Rights Watch.
"We might have to work from abroad as in old Soviet times."
The Moscow Times
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