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Russia's Regional NGOs “Audited” by Prosecutor

DemVybor activists in the regional city of Voronezh reported on the DemVybor blog [ru] that local NGOs are being audited by the city prosecutor's office. The four organizations being targeted are all members of the Human Rights House of Voronezh [ru]: they are the Youth Human Rights Movement, the Inter-regional Human Rights Group, the ECOSOCIS Fund, and the Center for the Development of Public Initiatives. Article20.org [ru], a human rights news network has published [ru] a PDF scan of the prosecutor's request for information from ECOSOCIS. The request reads:

Прокуратурой области по заданию Генеральной прокуратуры Российской Федерации проводится проверка исполнения законодательства о некоммерческих организациях и противодействии экстремистской деятельности.

The regional prosecutor's office, at the request of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, is conducting an audit of efforts to abide by legislation on NGOs and countering extremism.

Voronezh Prosecutor's Office letterhead. Screenshot, April 7, 2013.

Voronezh Prosecutor's Office letterhead. Screenshot, April 7, 2013.

The type of information requested is essentially all financial and administrative documents, including, of course, the money received by the organization from abroad. The new legislation is ostensibly designed to make such foreign funding more transparent. Some say, however, that it is aimed at stopping the flow of foreign money to Russian NGOs altogether.

More interestingly, the prosecutor is asking for specific information regarding the group's public activities, a generic question that seems to be aimed at the “anti-extremist” portion of the law, but at the same time reads like the instructions for a grantee undergoing performance review by its fund:

15) информацию об организованных и произведенных организацией массовых публичных мероприятиях (митинги, демонстрации, шествия, пикетирования, собрания), а также о массовых мероприятиях, в которых организацией принято участие. Дайте краткий анализ массовых мероприятий, цели и результаты их проведения.

15) information on mass public events (rallies, demonstrations, marches, pickets, meetings) organized and conducted by the organization, as well as mass events that the organization has taken part in. Give a brief analysis of the mass events, their goals, and the results of holding them.

Perhaps the Voronezh prosecutor's office simply wants to get local NGOs to review how well they are addressing their mission statements! It's likely that after submitting all the required documents, the NGOs in question will have a much better idea of their own cost-effectiveness. That's, of course, if they don't get shut down first.

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