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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

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekov's book will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.





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