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Duma Bill to Clamp Down on Non-Government Organizations

Published: December 26, 2012 (Issue # 1741)


MOSCOW Amid thepublic furor over theState Dumas proposed ban onU.S. adoptions, many seem tohave overlooked thefact that theso-called anti-Magnitsky act, which passed thelower house ofparliament onFriday, would also place harsh new restrictions onnon-governmental organizations.

Unlike theadoptions ban, thenew restrictions onU.S. funding forcertain groups havent sparked pickets outside theDuma, andtens ofthousands havent signed online petitions opposing them.

But human rights leaders say therules are afurther tightening ofthe screws oncivil society organizations, which have been pressed inrecent months bynew laws that expanded thedefinition oftreason andrequired certain groups toclassify themselves as foreign agents, which all major NGOs boycotted.

It feels like war has been declared, said Alexander Cherkasov, head ofthe Memorial human rights organization. Nobody sewed onthe yellow star. Thenew law, toextend themetaphor, says: Well shoot you even if youre not wearing ayellow star.

Theproposed rules would make it illegal forNGOs that receive funding fromU.S. citizens or organizations toparticipate inpolitical activities or otherwise threaten Russias national interests.

They would also ban Russian citizens who hold American passports frombeing members or leaders ofpolitical NGOs, including local branches ofinternational groups, which could see their assets seized forbreaking thelaw.

Civil society leaders worried that thebills vague language meant it could be used selectively.

Theres no established legal definition ofa threat against Russian interests, forinstance, therefore theanti-Magnitsky act is not alaw, concluded Transparency Internationals Yelena Panfilova.

Therestrictions onRussians who hold American passports seemed tobe aimed atveteran human rights leader Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Panfilova said, referring tothe head ofthe Moscow Helsinki Group, Russias oldest human rights watchdog.

Alexeyeva, 85, was forced toemigrate fromthe Soviet Union in1977 andreceived U.S. citizenship in1982. She returned toRussia in1993 andreceived aRussian passport as well.

Last week, Irina Yarovaya, head ofthe Dumas Security Committee, lashed out atAlexeyeva byquestioning her loyalty ina statement carried onthe partys website.

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Friday, Nov. 28


Join table-top game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


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Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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