Stoppage of financial support for all NGOs in Russia

Campaign for identification of Russian non-profit organizations, performing functions of foreign agents under applicable laws of Russia in action:

On the entry of law on 'foreign agents' into force (the Federal Law No. 121-FZ, July 20, 2012 "On Amendments to Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Regarding the Regulation of the Activities of Non-profit Organizations Performing the Function of a Foreign Agent') the appropriate register includes 107 organizations, involved in human rights' protection, environmental issues, education, improvement of social services' efficiency, the pursuance of anti-corruption researches and implementation of public control over authorities' activity. It should be noted that according to official returns 6 of them have ceased to perform the function of 'a foreign agent'. But these organizations have not been removed from the register. There was only mark for stoppage of foreign financial support, which, in fact, does not remove a derogatory label, designed to discredit the NGOs' activities and lower the level of Russian society's civil initiatives.

In the framework of 'foreign agent' concept's exception from the Russian Federation legislation, the dialog between the civil society and authorities, as well as, the return to democratic institutions was an attempt of forming the NGOs Association: "Russian Third Sector Union". But against expectation, the GOLOS Association could not hold the necessary activities for forming the body of interaction with government, upholding of NGOs interests and democratic principles. As a result on December 1, 2015 "Russian Union of Non-profit Organizations" was founded at the 6th Congress of NGOs of Russia. In the course of its constitutive meeting Alexander Aygistov was elected the President of the Union.

According to some NGOs, it happened because the Deputy Executive Director of the GOLOS Association, Gregory Melkonyants, did not organize routine meetings to coordinate organizations' activities, as well as, did not hold activities, scheduled at All-Russian Civil Forum on November 21-22, 2015. Neither the Ioffe Foundation nor "Memorial", nor "Public Verdict" was ever able to contact Melkonyants.

The GOLOS Association placed an order for organizing researches and developing recommendations for effective use of international mechanisms at national level for the new Union of non-profit organizations. However, GOLOS Association never offset the costs of the Public Verdict Foundation. Inter-regional charitable public organization 'Centre for Development of Non-profit Organizations' (CERANEO) has similar claims to GOLOS Association. On November 5, 2015, GOLOS filed a request with CERANEO to provide legal support for the Union of NGOs' registration and give financial consultations towards accounting procedures in the new formation. But a week later the Association's leadership supplied CERANEO with information about temporary suspension of its activity in this this direction and the order postponement.

The Deputy Executive Director of the GOLOS Association, Gregory Melkonyants declared, 'The Union of Non-profit Organizations, founded at the 6th Congress of NGOs, is not the organization necessary creation of which was mentioned by experts during All-Russian Civil Forum. Its project work is in hand, and it is hard work. You will not be able to create this Union off the top of your head. The creation of what we thought as useful thing cannot be quick'. For all the claims to the contrary, but with this in mind, we believe that the Association is unable to perform assigned mission.

The actual failure of NGOs 'Public Chamber's' creation will not only lead to extension of terms and complication of NGOs' further consolidation, but also spell a failure to the program for overcoming limitations, put on them in a part of financial resources and abrogation of repressive laws on 'foreign agents' and 'undesirable organizations' (the Federal Law No. 129-FZ, May 23, 2015 "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation"). At the same time it is not possible to solve the tasks of reorganization and liquidation of inefficient non-profit organizations in the framework of the NGOs Association "Russian Third Sector Union".

According to the analysis of presented information the way out of the situation is:

1. Stoppage of financial support for all NGOs of Russian Union of Non-profit Organizations on the part of international organizations to the point of their secession from the club.
2. Shifting the mission of the Union's creation and management on to the Centre for Development of Non-profit Organizations