Upper house approves first list of 12 ‘undesirable’ foreign groups

Chairwoman of the Federal Assembly Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko at the Federation Council meeting in Moscow. (RIA Novosti /
Alexey Kudenko)
Russia’s Federation Council has released a list of foreign organizations it plans to declare ‘undesirable’. The 12 entries in the document include the Soros Foundation and the US National Endowment for Democracy.

The upper house approved the list on its Wednesday session and forwarded the document to the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry. Speaker Valentina Matviyenko told reporters that it had been created out of reports from regional authorities that are concerned about alleged subversive activities by certain organizations. She also noted that the proposed version of the document is subject to change.

Matviyenko emphasized that the inclusion of the anti-Russian groups on the blacklist would make their work transparent and clear for local authorities, political and non-government organizations.

Today Russia faces its strongest attack in the past 25 years, targeting its national interests, values and institutes,” reads the Federation Council’s address to state agencies. “Its main goal is to influence the internal political situation in the country, undermine the patriotic unity of our people, undermine the integration processes within the CIS space and force our country into geopolitical isolation,” the senators state in the document.

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The first list created in accordance with the recently-introduced law ‘On Undesirable Foreign Organizations’ includes foreign and international groups “known for their anti-Russian bias.”

They are: the Open Society Institute, also known as the Soros Foundation; the National Endowment for Democracy; the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute; the MacArthur Foundation; Freedom House; the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; the Education for Democracy Foundation; the East European Democratic Center; the Ukrainian World Congress; the Ukrainian World Coordinating Council; and the Crimean Field Mission on Human Rights.

The head of the Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, told reporters that very often the groups who posed as NGOs were working on orders from government structures of foreign nations with the objective of countering Russia’s interests.

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The Law on Undesirable Foreign Organizations came into force in early June this year. It requires the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to make an official list of undesirable foreign organizations and outlaw their activities. Once the group is recognized as undesirable, all its assets in Russia must be frozen, offices closed and distribution of any of its information materials must be banned.

If the ban is violated, both the personnel of the outlawed group and Russian citizens who cooperate with them face punishments of heavy fines, or even prison terms in case of repeated or aggravated offence.

Just days after the law came into force two senior Communist Party MPs asked the Prosecutor General to use it against George Soros’s Open Society organization. The lawmakers blamed the group for “persistent anti-Russian activities both in Russia and in other countries,” in particular for promoting hatred against Russians in Ukraine via the destruction of the Russian education system.