Additions to the law on “undesirable organizations”. The most important

On July 12, the latest amendments to the legislation on unwanted NGOs came into force. They established administrative responsibility for cooperation with “undesirable” organizations not only in Russia, but also abroad, if this activity is “directed against the interests of the Russian Federation”. Criminal liability still arises for cooperation with undesirable NGOs on the territory of Russia, however, the history of persecution of employees of undesirable NGOs demonstrates that the Internet space is also recognized under “territory”.

This article is available also in Polish.

Just from May to June 2021, 9 organizations were included in the register of unwanted organizations. In total, the register includes 40 NGOs of various organizational and legal forms, mainly from the USA and Europe.

BASIS FOR RECOGNIZING AN UNWANTED ORGANIZATION

If earlier the activity of NGOs was recognized as undesirable if it “poses a threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, the country’s defense or state security,” the changes in 2021 added:

  1. Facilitating or hindering the nomination of candidates, lists of candidates, the election of registered candidates, the achievement of a certain result in the elections.

Thus, any informational activity related to elections may fall under this clause.

  1. If the organization provides intermediary services in transactions with money and property for “activities that pose a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order, defense or security of the state.”

This clause covers the provision of services by a foreign organization to both legal entities and individuals, regardless of whether one of them is recognized as an undesirable organization or a foreign agent. To confirm the “threat”, a certificate from the FSB is sufficient; its judicial appeal is futile. On this point, any foreign organization operating with money or property, regardless of the amount and of the country of origin of the funds, can be recognized as undesirable.

If the first point allows you to calculate the risks and, for example, not even express your personal opinion about the elections and candidates, then the second point allows you to recognize any foreign organization as undesirable.

CONSEQUENCES FOR THE UNWANTED ORGANIZATION

  • A ban on the creation of structural subdivisions of “undesirable NGOs” on the territory of the Russian Federation and the termination of the work of existing ones.
  • Obligation for credit institutions and non-credit financial institutions to refuse to carry out a transaction with funds, one of the parties to which is an unwanted NGO. Also provide information on the refusal to the federal executive body who is taking measures to counter the legalization (laundering) of proceeds from crime, the financing of terrorism and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And that organ has to transfer information to the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of Justice.
  • A ban on the creation a foreign or international non-governmental organization on the territory of the Russian Federation of legal entities or participation in them

CONSEQUENCES FOR PARTNERS-ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS

  • A ban on the distribution of informational materials by “unwanted NGOs”, including in the media and the Internet, as well as a ban on the production and storage of such materials for distribution. This includes any re-posts of objectionable materials, links to reports, research, statements, including the fact of recognition as objectionable. The clause “for distribution purposes” should be understood as “more than one copy”.
  • A ban on the implementation of programs (projects) on the territory of the Russian Federation for unwanted NGOs. However, it is not necessary for the project to come from the NGO itself. The word “for” will be interpreted broadly enough, for example, “in interest” or “in partnership”. This prohibition fully applies to Russian NGOs and individual citizens, as well as Russian commercial organizations.
  • A ban on participation in the activities of undesirable NGOs outside the Russian Federation for Russian legal entities, citizens of the Russian Federation permanently residing in the Russian Federation
  • According to the Federal Law “On the procedure for leaving the Russian Federation and entering the Russian Federation”, foreign citizens and stateless persons participating in the activities of unwanted NGOs may be prohibited from entering the territory of the Russian Federation.

If the partnership between the undesirable and other organizations or individuals is maintained in any form (correspondence, joint statements, payment of membership fees, transfer of undesirable projects to an organization that does not have such a status), this may entail the application of sanctions.

Sanctions

Offense Territory of action, citizenship of the offender, limitation period Punishment Article
Participation in the activities of unwanted NGOs Regardless of the territory. In the Russian Federation – for sure, abroad – if the activity is directed against the interests of the Russian Federation Citizens of the Russian Federation, stateless persons permanently residing in the Russian Federation. Statute of limitations 2 years The fine for citizens is 5-15 thousand rubles, for officials – 20-50 thousand rubles, for employees of the apparatus of election commissions – disqualification for a period of one year, for legal entities – 50-100 thousand rubles. Art. 20.33 Administrative Code of the Russian Federation
Violation of the prohibitions established by the law of “Dima Yakovlev” Regardless of the territory. In the Russian Federation – for sure, abroad – if the activity is directed against the interests of the Russian Federation Citizens of the Russian Federation, stateless persons permanently residing in the Russian Federation. Statute of limitations 2 years The fine for citizens is 5-15 thousand rubles, for officials – 20-50 thousand rubles, for employees of the apparatus of election commissions – disqualification for a period of one year, for legal entities – 50-100 thousand rubles. Art. 20.33 Administrative Code of the Russian Federation
Participation in the activities of an undesirable NGO, committed by a person previously subjected to administrative punishment under 20.33, or with a criminal record under Art. 284.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation Only on the territory of the Russian Federation. Citizens of the Russian Federation, foreign citizens, stateless persons. Statute of limitations 6 years A fine of 300-500 thousand rubles, or income for a period of 2-3 years; Compulsory work up to 360 hours; Forced labor up to 4 years; Deprivation of liberty for a term of 1 to 4 years. Art. 284.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, part 1
Provision or collection of funds or provision of financial services, deliberately intended to support the activities of undesirable NGOs in the Russian Federation (one-time) Only on the territory of the Russian Federation. Citizens of the Russian Federation, foreign citizens, stateless persons. Statute of limitations 6 years Compulsory work up to 360 hours; Forced labor up to 4 years; Deprivation of liberty from 1 to 5 years. Art. 284.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, part 2
Organization of activities of undesirable NGOs on the territory of the Russian Federation (one-time) Only on the territory of the Russian Federation. Citizens of the Russian Federation, foreign citizens, stateless persons. Statute of limitations 6 years Compulsory work up to 480 hours; Forced labor up to 5 years; Deprivation of liberty from 2 to 6 years. Art. 284.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, part 3

TERRITORY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

It is important to take into account that the activity that is carried out on the Internet and its results can be recognized as “activity on the territory of the Russian Federation”.

At the same time, publications on the Internet are lasting, so, even if the information was posted before the entry into force, but remained after, it already falls under the law.

The new legislation not only restricts direct cooperation with unwanted NGOs for Russian legal entities and individuals, but also introduces criminal liability for one-time assistance in financing unwanted NGOs. The minimum amount after which criminal liability arises is not established.