By: Angela Rajic
Controversy has arisen with the news that Russia passed a law that could potentially make it impossible for foreign Not-For-Profit organizations to set up offices in the country. This has caused much upset among international aid organizations as well as neighbouring nations who fear that the law will be used to unjustly police activists in the country.
The legislation that was signed into on May 23rd allows any foreign NGO to be deemed "undesirable" and its operators to be fined up to 100,000 rubles ($2,000) or given a jail term of up to 6 years. Russian officials claim the law is for national protection. In an Interview with Russia Beyond the Headlines, Russian State Duma Deputy Anton Ischenko said that the aim of the law was to "undermine all attempts to shake up the situation in the country from abroad."
Meanwhile, those who organize and run Not For Profit organizations in the country fear that the law will be used to muffle dissent. Olga Pispanen, president of Open Russia, an organization dedicated to promoting democracy through education, independent media and support for political prisoners, stated that she fills the organization and others like it are prime targets for the new law.
Only time will tell how Putin and the Russian government will utilize this new law, and what it means for foreign NGOs, but all eyes will be watching.