Justice minister admits no NGO may ever be put on foreign agent list
MOSCOW, June 18 (RAPSI) - Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov has not ruled out that the list of NGOs registered as foreign agents will remain empty, as he spoke at a meeting of the Presidential Council on Human Rights.
Under a controversial law approved by President Vladimir Putin last year, NGOs funded from abroad and engaged in political activities are required to register as foreign agents, or face fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,000) for NGOs and up to 300,000 rubles ($10,000) for NGO directors.
Human rights advocacy groups have protested the initiative.
The Presidential Human Rights Council drafted recommendations last month, proposing changes to the wording of the NGO law. The council proposed using the term "non-profit organization funded from foreign sources" instead of "foreign agent."
"With the current wording, there is a chance that the list of foreign agents will never fill up," Konovalov said.
Furthermore, it is impossible to force an organization to register, not even by a court order, he said, adding that he is so far unaware of any forced shutdowns of NGOs.
Not a single Russian NGO financed from abroad and engaged in political activity has fulfilled its duty under the law to register as a "foreign agent," Tatyana Vagina, the deputy head of the Justice Ministry's NGO Department, said last month.