Another nail in the coffin of free speech?
Many stories have come out of Russia in recent years about the increase of state control of the media, the judiciary and so forth. But what about governmental control of non-governmental organisations? That’s an idea that seems completely at odds with itself, doesn’t it? But, according to the fears of many NGOs working in Russia, that’s exactly what’s going to happen there.
Russia's State Duma has given its preliminary backing to a new bill which would give the state greater control over non-governmental organizations working in the country.
Sponsors of the bill say it will prevent money laundering, ‘extremism’ and undue foreign influence - an idea that one NGO, Human Rights Watch, says is ridiculous. They reckon the bill will only mean that many NGOs will be forced to close their regional offices in Russia.
So, who’s right? State control of NGOs would certainly be another nail in the coffin of free speech and independence in Russia, but how independent are foreign-funded NGOs anyway? Does he who pays the piper pay the tune as well? (A quote that admittedly comes from President Putin himself...)
Check out the interview I did with HRW researcher, Diederik Lohman.
And if you want to find out more about it, there's a couple of good articles on Guardian Unlimited and the BBC's webpage.
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