US ‘deeply concerned’ over Russia’s NGO checks
In France and Germany, representatives of the Russian embassies were summoned for explanations in connection with the ongoing checks
Russian President Vladimir Putin called searches and checks on the premises of a number of Russian and foreign human rights organizations “routine activities” aimed at making sure that the work of human rights defenders is carried out in accordance with Russian laws.
The Russian leader made his first public comments on this matter on Thursday March 28 during a meeting with Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin. These statements follow diplomatic demarches from some European countries, whose authorities have expressed concern about these events..
“These are routine activities related to the desire of law enforcement agencies to bring the activities of organizations in line with the law,” said Vladimir Putin.
“The purpose of all inspections is to check how the activities of certain non-governmental organizations correspond to the stated goals, whether these activities comply with the laws of the Russian Federation,” the President of the Russian Federation said..
Addressing Lukin, Putin said: “And, of course, I will ask you to keep it under control, so that I have a source of additional information. I would like no bends to be allowed there. “.
On the same day, representatives of Russian law enforcement agencies paid a visit to the headquarters of the Moscow Helsinki Group, the oldest human rights organization in Russia, in order to check its financial transactions..
This was announced by the head of the group Lyudmila Alekseeva.
Last Wednesday searches were carried out in the Moscow offices of the international law enforcement organizations Human Rights Watch and Transparency International.
Previously, similar procedures were carried out in the offices of the Memorial Society, as well as in the Moscow office of the international human rights organization Amnesty International. According to Pavel Chikov, a member of the presidential council for human rights, about 2,000 Russian NGOs have already been searched..
In response, the diplomatic representatives of Russia in Germany and France were summoned to the respective ministries of foreign affairs, where they demanded an explanation of what was happening..
European Union Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton said she was “concerned” about the raids, which she believed were part of “a trend of serious concern.”.
“The searches and inspections that took place at the premises of Russian non-governmental organizations had vague legal grounds and are troubling as they appear to be aimed at further undermining civil society in the country,” Ashton said in a special statement..
In Berlin, the German Foreign Ministry summoned a representative of the Russian embassy in order to “express the concern of the German government” about searches in the offices of NGOs.
The premises of two German non-governmental organizations working in Moscow and St. Petersburg were searched this week..