In his first year in office, President Dmitry Medvedev has done little to reverse the Russian government's deliberate weakening of key institutions of a pluralistic democratic society, which marked the presidency of Vladimir Putin. One key aspect of this growing authoritarianism has been increasing, excessive government scrutiny and control of nongovernmental organizations, mainly through the 2006 law regulating NGOs. This report describes how the law and current rules allow the state to interfere arbitrarily in NGOs, by conducting intrusive audits, imposing onerous reporting requirements, and impeding NGO registration on non-substantive, insignificant grounds. It documents how the law allows the Ministry of Justice to take disproportionate, punitive measures in response to minor administrative violations by NGOs. The report also describes how the deeply negative operating climate for NGOs is exacerbated by new restrictions on grants and subsidized office space, and a growing number of physical attacks and hostile statements directed at NGOs and activists. President Medvedev in April 2009 acknowledged the difficulties faced by NGOs, including restrictions 'without sufficient justification,' occasioning some optimism that Medvedev will break with restrictive policies instituted under Putin. Soon thereafter, Medvedev initiated a limited process for reforming the troublesome law; initial reforms will affect only a fraction of NGOs and are limited in scope. Human Rights Watch calls on the Russian government to expand the reform to all organizations, and end and desist from further arbitrary limitations on the work of independent civil society groups.
"June 2009." -- page following t.p. verso. Report researched and written by Matthew Schaaf. Additional research and writing done by Tanya Lokshina and Alexander Petrov. -- Ack. (p.63)
Bibliography, etc. Note
Includes bibliographical references.
Available in Other Form
Also issued in print: Schaaf, Matthew. Uncivil approach to civil society. New York, NY : Human Rights Watch, c2009