Russian NGOs hit by financial crisis
The financial crisis is making it far harder for Russian NGOs to raise funding. At the same time, Russian authorities are tightening the screw for the organisations in fear of public unrest following the harder economic times.
Environmentalist in the environmental group Ecodefence, Vladimir Slivyak, confirms to the Moscow Times that he has been unable to raise even half of the funding that he had planned for the group. -The situation is very bad, all Russian money that went to NGOs here is being frozen, he told the newspaper. Also Arseny Roginsky, director of human rights group Memorial, admits that there is less money available. At the same time he underlines that "money is not the main thing". Not only do the organisations face harder times with financing. They also face new administrative and bureaucratic hurdles from the authorities. A top concern for many activists in recent weeks has been the government's failure to publish a vital list of which organizations can issue grants without having to pay taxes on them. Many donor organizations make tax-exemption an essential requirement for releasing the money, the Moscow Times writes. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in June last year signed a decree which listed just 12 organizations allowed tax-free grants, down from the previous 101. The lack of the tax exemption will make the work of the non-governmental organisations far harder to manage. Mr. Roginsky believes the authorities are tightening the screw for NGOs because they feel threatened by possible social unrest linked with the crisis.