Thursday, November 24, 2005

Death to Civil Society in Russia

It is highly disturbing to see the speed with which the Duma in the first reading decided on the new law putting serious restrictions on non-governmental organisations in Russia, and in practical terms forcing all foreign such to close down operations in the country.

Independent Duma member Vladimir Ryzjkov is clear in his view about the law:

"This bill will put an end to civil society in Russia".

In Moscow over last weekend, different representatives of the presidential administration brushed aside criticism of the draft law by saying that it would be very substantially modified.

Well, there is still room for this to be done. But we have learnt over the past few years that the nationalist and the security factions more often than not get the last word on issues like these.

I understand that the issue was raised by President Bush when hne saw President Putin in Busan last week. That's excellent. One wonder if Europe has done anything. I haven't heard anything.

Silence from Europe would be highly disturbing.

We should not silently accept the silencing of Russia.

Duma Gives Nod to Tough NGO Bill