Russian authorities have refused to grant legal status to 40 foreign NGOs which submitted paperwork to the justice ministry under stringent new legislation that requires them to re-register by 18 October. Alexander Zhyafrov, who heads the ministry’s section handling political, religious and civil groups, said the 40 NGOs needed to work on their documents further owing to ‘mistakes in connection with the negligent filling in of forms’.
NGO representatives claimed the complaints are a bureaucratic way of closing groups that challenge the Kremlin’s political dominance. Alison Gill, director of Human Rights Watch’s Moscow office, said: ‘The regulations themselves are not transparent and involve such discretion that compliance is impossible if they [officials] want it to be.’
IJCSL Newsletter, July 2006