Russia Lowers the Boom on NGOs and other ‘Foreign Agents’
President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign into law a bill adopted by Russia’s parliament today which labels many foreign-funded, non-governmental organisations operating within their country as “foreign agents”.
The Kremlin has stated that it believes such a bill is appropriate for protecting Russia from external attempts to influence internal politics.
The new law has also been given some financial teeth. Human rights activists are already enraged by the legislation, as the Duma also voted to impose fines of up to 5m rubles ($153,000) and a potential two year prison sentence for any organizations or individuals found to be in violation of the new law.
Lyudmila Alekseeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, believes that their new ‘foreign agent’ status will force the organization to fold as a result of having to refuse foreign grant money. Alekseeva explains, “The non-wealthy are not used to donating money to non-profit organizations, while the rich fear they may lose their business [by doing so]”.
In response to his government’s critics, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has assured those affected that state funding will be increased for any NGOs whose activity “as a whole is deemed useful and positive for our country”.
Russia latest move mirrors that of Egypt earlier this year, where the Egyptian government, then under the control of Egypt’s SCAF military command, expelled hundreds of NGO employees and later charged 43 people for ‘instilling dissent and meddling in domestic policies’ in the wake of Arab Spring protests in Tahir Square and elsewhere, including citizens from the US, Germany, Norway, Serbia and Jordan. Egypt then warned NGOs not to work inside their country without a special license.
The Egyptian incident cause a serious diplomatic row with the US, with the Washington quietly threatening to pull Egypt’s annual military aid package, in total worth nearly $2 billion per annum.
Much to the dismay of professional nation-builders Washington, Egypt was the first to figure out how, and formerly react against America’s ‘off the books’ web of non-governmental agencies and human rights groups – a web that quietly enables it to play both sides of the geopolitical game. Realizing that they had served their purpose in helping to secure Libya for NATO, Egypt knew it may soon fall fast out of favor with their paymasters in Washington, perhaps with yet another western-backed ‘Arab Spring’ at some other point in the future.
In the new age of the ‘color revolutions’, many of which are on record as being seed-funded and in some cases run by NGO’s and foundations such as George Soros’s Freedom House and the Open Society Institute, along with other US State Department-linked organizations like the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and of course, the National Endowment for Democracy. In addition, long-serving NGO’s such as USAID are by now well known as being absolute fronts for CIA operations all over the globe.
Another key player in both the Tunisia and Egypt’s ‘Arab Spring’ is another Soros-linked organization called CANVAS - the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies - formerly known as OPTOR!.
This organisation was started by Serbians Ivan Marovic and Srdja Popovic, who both played a key a role in the CIA-backed deposing of Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic, and whose manual for “regime change”, From Dictatorship to Democracy was written by Harvard professor Gene Sharp, and commonly referred to as the bible of the colour revolutions. Sharp’s own Albert Einstein Institution is partly funded by none other than the National Endowment for Democracy and the Open Society Foundation. In short, CANVAS runs an off shore soft coup d’état machine.
Not limiting itself to color movements overseas, CANVAS was also present during the early days of Occupy Wall Street, including a video of Marovic himself addressing one of the first general assemblies in New York.
It’s little wonder then why many countries are now looking upon the myriad of foreign NGO and human rights organizations as unwanted potential ousting mechanisms working covertly within their own borders.
Russia has much to be cynical about in this area, particularly following their recent Presidential election which say an avalanche of foreign media coverage and heavily critical statements coming out of Washington which accused the United Russia Party and its leader Putin of ‘fixing’ the election results, including statements from Hillary Clinton claiming that Russia is in need of ‘democratic reform’ by claiming at the time, “Russian voters deserve a full investigation of electoral fraud and manipulation”.
Putin later retaliated, accusing Clinton of fomenting election protests in Russia during the final days and after the end of the presidential race in Moscow. USA TODAY reported then:
By describing Russia’s parliamentary election as rigged, Putin said Clinton “gave a signal” to his opponents.
“They heard this signal and with the support of the U.S. State Department began their active work,” Putin said in televised remarks. He said the United States is spending “hundreds of millions” of dollars to influence Russian politics with the aim of weakening a rival nuclear power.
These initial sparks could very well have led to Russia’s current legal position on the fate of foreign NGO’s.
As international brinkmanship continues, and the stakes are gradually raised by events surrounding both Syria and Iran, along with US and NATO efforts to encircle Russia and China, other countries could follow suit behind Russia and Egypt.
This trend could spell difficult times for the future fate of thousands of NGOs and charities hoping to operate overseas – many of who have been valuable tools and convenient fronts for western intelligence agencies like the CIA.