Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Another piece of the puzzle

Whether it's nationalistic bravado or self-defense, the attack on NGOs in Russia goes on. And it is another piece of the Putin politics puzzle.

Russian Authorities Raid Amnesty International Office
Russian authorities on Monday raided the local headquarters of the human rights group Amnesty International, the latest in a continuing series of office searches aimed at putting pressure on nongovernmental groups.

The head of Amnesty International, Sergei Nikitin, said in a telephone interview that officials from the general prosecutor’s offices and from the tax police arrived Monday morning unannounced to conduct what they described as an “audit” and demanded a list of documents, most of which Mr. Nikitin said were already on file with the government…

Last week, the authorities conducted a similar raid at the offices of Memorial, an international historical society and human rights group that has operated in Russia and other post-Soviet states for more than two decades.

Pavel Chikov, a member of Russia’s presidential human rights council, has said that dozens of groups had been subjected to searches in the past month.

The Kremlin has taken a series of steps in recent months aimed at clamping down on nonprofit organizations, particularly those that receive financing and other support from abroad…

Depending on how they are financed, certain groups, for instance, are now required to register as “foreign agents.” And certain types of nonprofit groups, working in the political realm are barred from employing foreigners in leadership positions…

But Mr. Nikitin said the government’s actions were far more concerning. “All of this is a form of scaring us, it’s a way for them to show that they aren’t taking their eyes off of us,” he said. “You can call it a toughening of the government’s relationship to rights organizations, because in the past we have never faced these smear campaigns.”

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