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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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Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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