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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Foreign NGOs Near Deadline

A senior government official on Tuesday urged Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and other foreign NGOs to speed up their registration with authorities, noting that half have yet to do so.

Foreign NGOs have until Oct. 18 to comply with a new NGO law adopted earlier this year.

Anatoly Panchenko, deputy chief of the Federal Registration Service department in charge of NGOs, added that many foreign NGOs submit "repulsive" translations of their paperwork into Russian and have trouble filling out government forms correctly. Panchenko's comments came at a meeting with representatives from about 50 NGOs.

Leaders of foreign nongovernmental organizations countered that the government was asking for the impossible: charters granting groups permission to operate in Russia, address and passport information for groups' founding members and other details that, NGOs say, consume vast quantities of time.

Jens Siegert, director of the German Heinrich Boll Foundation, said the group had to convene a special meeting of its members to amend its charter, thereby enabling it to open offices abroad -- and comply with the Russian law. Siegert noted that in Germany, NGOs do not have to include this provision in their charters.

Also, Siegert said, the government released its requirements for NGOs in June, about six weeks after the law took effect. The Heinrich Boll Foundation is in line to meet the deadline, he said.

Responding to his critics, Panchenko said his government agency did not write the NGO law. As if seeking to tamp down all the complaining, Panchenko also said one NGO -- which he declined to name -- had to provide information about its 17th-century regal founders.

Of the estimated 200 foreign NGOs operating in Russia, 86 have filed their paperwork, Panchenko said. So far, he said, only 26 foreign NGOs have been officially registered by the state to operate. At present, he said, officials are examining documents filed by 40 organizations; they have asked another 20 NGOs to resubmit their paperwork.