Foreign agents law is here to stay - Putin

Foreign agents law is here to stay - Putin
The law that obliges NGOs that participate in politics and receive sponsorship from abroad to register as foreign agents will not be changed in essence, but some details in it can be edited, Vladimir Putin has said.

The President was holding a meeting with leading Human Rights activists and officials on Thursday that was dedicated to the recently introduced foreign agents law. "As far as the law is concerned, or rather the part of it that causes great discussions – whether the organizations that are engaged in internal political activities should register – we will not change this position,” Putin said. “This is because when people are doing some political work inside the country and receive money from abroad, the society has the right to know what kind of organization this is, and where they get the funds to sponsor their existence,” the President added.

Putin admitted, however, that the details of the law can be subject to editing and asked officials to work on dividing the NGOs described in the text into those engaged in politics and those dealing with social issues.

The Russian leader also said that he personally opposed tax exemptions for companies that sponsor non-governmental activities. “If someone wants to appear pretty, they should pay from their profits and not through benefits or, in other words, at taxpayers’ expense,” Putin noted. 

The presidential statement came as about a dozen Russian NGOs said that they were preparing to sue the government in the European Court for Human Rights over the law on foreign agents and the recent inspections in which Russian law enforcers sought to check if the new law was being observed.

The election-monitoring NGO Golos, the activities of which have been suspended over repeated refusal to register as a foreign agent, said it would seek $5 million compensation for damages inflicted by prosecutors.