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AIDS-Prevention NGOs Freed of Foreign Agent Stigma

Published: August 17, 2014 (Issue # 1824)



  • According to Anya Sarang, president of the Andrei Rylkov Foundation, recent changes suggest that Russia does not want to jeopardize international funding of HIV prevention measures.
    Photo: Andrey Rylkov Foundation

Non-governmental organizations working to fight HIV/AIDS in Russia will not be required to register as foreign agents if they receive funding from abroad, Kommersant reported Friday, citing the results of recent inspections by the Justice Ministry.

The inspections, which began in June at the government's request, covered dozens of NGOs working in the sphere of HIV/AIDS throughout the country, including in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tatarstan, and the Kirov, Kursk and Tyumensk regions.

Newspaper Kommersant said Friday the results of the inspections showed none of the organizations were found by the ministry to be conducting political activities, meaning they will not be required to register as foreign agents even if they are funded from abroad.

The news is likely a relief to many representatives of NGOs who have worried about how to secure financing while at the same time avoiding violating the controversial so-called "foreign agents law," passed in 2012.

According to that legislation, NGOs accepting foreign funding and conducting what the ministry deems to be "political activities" are required to register as foreign agents — a label that, in Russian, carries connotations of espionage.

"It is impossible to explain the position of those doing these checks. Previously, they found politics even in the work of ecologists, but now that is not happening," Ramil Akhmetgaliev, a lawyer for the Agora rights group, said in comments carried by Kommersant on Friday.

Anya Sarang, the president of the Andrei Rylkov Foundation, a grassroots organization that seeks to promote awareness of drug addiction and develop a humane drug policy, told Kommersant that the results of the inspections may stem from Russia's new role as a donor country for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The fund had contributed huge sums of financing to Russia for the fight against HIV for nearly 10 years before Russia opted to take on a leadership position and turn down the majority of funding.

That move has led to more scrutiny of Russia's own handling of the HIV epidemic, with many activists warning that the government is not doing enough.

Several Russian NGOs that deal with HIV/AIDS united to apply to the Global Fund for a grant this year, and the application is still pending.

According to Sarang, the results of the Justice Ministry's recent inspections suggest that Russia does not want to jeopardize that request for funding.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Oct. 30


Dental-Expo St. Petersburg 2014 concludes today at Lenexpo. Welcoming specialists from throughout the federation, the forum is an opportunity for dentists to share tricks of the trade and peruse the most recent innovations in technology and equipment, with over 100 companies hocking their wares at the event.



Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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