Russia clamps down on NGOs

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has signed a resolution that
significantly reduces the number of NGOs eligible for tax breaks in Russia.

The decree, which will come into force in January, cuts the number of
organisations eligible for tax-free payments from 101 to 12, leaving large
international groups such as the Ford Foundation, the Royal Society and the
Eurasia Foundation off the list.

The move has been seen by some NGOs as part of a wider government attempt to
curb the activities of foreign organisations.

Pyotr Gorbunenko, managing director of the World Wide Fund for Nature in
Russia, told the Financial Times that he believed the change to be
politically motivated.

‘I think this is a result of efforts of our intelligence forces…those who
already introduced practically full control of the state over the activities of
NGOs. This is the next step in the previous line,’ he said.

However, the government argues it is simply a bid to make existing tax rules
more transparent.

Government official Alexander Smirnov told The Moscow Times that
international NGOs who were not on the new list could apply for inclusion prior
to new rules coming into effect, and would continue to attract tax free status
in the meantime.

‘This is a completely democratic and transparent measure,’ said Smirnov.

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