[Marxism] They should have done this 15 years ago when it mattered
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 24 14:26:19 MST 2005
NY Times, November 24, 2005
Putin Defends Russia's Right to Regulate Private Groups
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
MOSCOW, Nov. 24 - President Vladimir V. Putin today defended Russia's right
to scrutinize any political activity by foreign and domestic charities and
nongovernmental organizations, even as he promised that "civil society in
Russia should not suffer."
Making his first public remarks on an issue that has caused a furor at home
and abroad, Mr. Putin said he would consult with parliamentary leaders on
new legislation that would place all private organizations under strict
state control and threaten others with closure.
At the same time, however, he expressed strong support for a core aim of
the legislation, setting up a confrontation with the United States and
Europe over programs intended to create political pluralism and to promote
democratic change in Russia.
"The continuing financing of the political activity from abroad should be,
I think, in the state's field of vision," he said in remarks broadcast on
state television, "especially if this financing is carried out through the
state channels of other countries and these or those organizations
functioning in our country and involved in the political activity are, in
fact, used as a tool of the foreign policy of other states."
Mr. Putin spoke a day after the lower house of the Russian Parliament voted
overwhelmingly to give preliminary approval to the legislation, which would
force 450,000 private organizations to register under tighter rules next
year. Representatives of the organizations said the legislation would place
a burden on all organizations and give the authorities new powers to shut
down those considered insufficiently loyal to the Kremlin.
The draft now being considered would force foreign organizations -
including some of the world's most prominent human rights and environmental
organizations - to close their offices and seek to reregister as purely
Russian organizations, also under new controls over their activities.
Officials in Washington have expressed concern about the legislation, but
stopped short of publicly demanding that Russia back down. Mr. Putin,
meeting with his adviser on human rights and civil society, suggested in
his remarks that amendments would be considered, but he did not elaborate
on what provisions of the legislation, if any, would be significantly revised.
In 2004, the United States donated $45 million to groups in Russian that
promote democracy and civil liberties - money that the United States State
Department's said was intended to address "Russia's inconsistent transition
toward a democratic system." If interpreted strictly, as many here fear it
would be, the legislation would prohibit Russian organizations from
accepting such grants.
Even some of Mr. Putin's advisers have publicly complained the legislation
goes too far. Still it was passed on Wednesday by a vote of 370 to 18. Ella
A. Pamfilova, Mr. Putin's adviser on human rights, said she requested the
meeting with the president to discuss the legislation's most restrictive
In a telephone interview after today's meeting, she said that the president
had promised to address her concerns as the legislative process proceeds.
The lower house of Parliament must vote two more times before sending the
legislation to the upper house and ultimately to Mr. Putin. A second vote
is now scheduled for Dec. 9.
"The president was concerned by the quality of the document and stressed
not a single of provisions of the law should violate either our
constitution or international law," she said. "He also said it was
inadmissible if the work of civil organizations is damaged."
The legislation's critics, however, said the Kremlin was intent on cracking
down on one of the last parts of Russia society not already under state
control. They cited the Kremlin's fear of foreign and domestic support that
could lead to political upheaval like that that toppled Ukraine's
autocratic government after fraudulent elections a year ago.
"One hundred percent of N.G.O.'s in Russia will be under the control of the
government," Vladimir A. Ryzhkov, an independent parliamentary deputy who
voted against the legislation, said in a telephone interview after the
vote. "It is one more authoritarian step by the authoritarian regime."
Nikolai Khalip contributed reporting for this article.
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