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Russia: Non-Governmental Organisations

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions have taken place between his Department and the Russian government on the position of non-governmental organisations in Russia; and if he will make a statement. (158026)

We have a mature and frank relationship with Russia on a wide range of human rights and democracy issues, both through specific bilateral and EU human rights consultations. We make our concerns known and they in turn have issues they raise with us.

We have consistently voiced our concerns about restrictions upon the legitimate work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Russia. We most recently raised our concerns through the EU/Russia Human Rights Consultations on 3 October.

Some NGOs have expressed concern that the requirements imposed by the new NGO law, including registration, have limited their activities. Some individual NGOs have also found their operating environment further constrained by legislation and harassment. Many of these organisations had received funding from international institutions or from foreign governments.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department has taken to support the position of non-governmental organisations in Russia; and if he will make a statement. (158027)

Along with EU partners, we are actively monitoring implementation of the non-governmental organisations (NGO) law. We repeatedly call on the Russian authorities to implement the NGO law in line with their international commitments. Our concerns over the NGO law were raised during the EU/Russia Human Rights Consultations on 3 October.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) funds NGOs working in Russia as part of its global programme of project work to develop civil society. This includes funding of NGOs working on sustainable development, human rights and economic governance issues. Many of these projects are run in full co-operation with the Russian authorities. For example, the Russian Federal Prison Service has co-operated extensively on a number of projects and has on more than one occasion expressed its gratitude for the active support of the UK on Russian prison reform.

In October 2006, the FCO held a seminar on the NGO law. It gave UK NGOs the opportunity to put questions to a senior official of the Federation Registration Service, which is responsible for registering foreign NGOs under the amended law.