Olga Gnezdilova, barrister and expert on the right of association in Russia, who works with Lawyers for Civil Society in Voronezh and is the author of a recent report on the right of association, talks with Rights in Russia about the current legal framework for civil society organizations in Russia.
Rights in Russia: How do you see the current situation for NGOs in Russia?
Olga Gnezdilova: I can’t say that violations of freedom of association are very serious at the moment, but we see significant new problems arising in the future. On the one hand some positive changes may well take place, but on the other hand some negative changes are also expected.
As for the negative changes, from 1 January 2013 new amendments to the Civil Code of the Russian Federation are to be introduced. These will reduce the number of legal forms of non-profit organizations to six kinds. All other kinds, like autonomous non-commercial organizations, non-commercial partnerships, and public movements will cease. Organizations that have these legal forms will probably be given time to reregister.
If the organizations do not manage to reregister in time they will be closed down. And we think that many organizations will be closed. Many organizations do not have lawyers on their staff, and they do not keep up with the latest changes in the law. If they do not do anything, these organizations will be closed down. [Read more]