» 07/17/2012 RUSSIA Russia, bill for more control over volunteers by Nina Achmatova After the Law on NGOs, a draft bill which requires volunteers to sign an agreement with charitable organizations before working in the field. Experts say Kremlin bothered by growing movement.
- As the ranks of the army of volunteers from all over Russia continue to swell
are they head for Krymsk, the city hardest hit by the floods of July 6, the
authorities are studying a new law for the first time to give voluntary work legal status. Human
rights activists, however, are alarmed: the initiative, they say, is intended
only to put this spontaneous movement under the strict control of the Kremlin,
which already in a recently passed law tightened its hold on foreign funded NGOs.
summer fires of 2010, electoral fraud in December, the indiscriminate
demolition of historic buildings in Moscow and more recently the floods in the
Krasnodar region (over 170 dead), are just some of the events over the past two
years that have mobilized an unexpected number of
volunteers, committed to making up for shortcomings and failures of local and
central authorities, especially in times of emergency. Moscow
views this broad and transverse movement, which is garnering praise and
admiration in every sector of society, as a potential factor for "destabilization".
was admitted in no uncertain terms by the mayor of Krymsk in the aftermath of
the disaster, when hundreds of Russians began to flock to the southern city.
to statements byopposition deputy Ilya Ponomarev, the Russian Public Chamber is
preparing a draft law in which volunteers are required to sign agreements of
cooperation with an organization that deals with charitable acts, and with
local authorities. The
bill aims, officially, to "protect volunteers", providing that
individual organizations have to ensure their transportation, meals and
to Ponomarev, however, the new law could result in "serious problems"
for volunteers, with the authority that might try to curb their activities in
an attempt to keep tabs on rumors
spreading of any eventual government responsibility in local disasters. The
draft law will reportedly be submitted in August and then discussed by the
chambers in the autumn session, according to Moskovskiye Novosti newspaper. Currently
there are no laws governing the voluntary sector.
is hell," said the photographer and famous Tweeter activist Dmitry
Mukhin, head of the Center for political technologies disagrees. "This
is a pragmatic, not political decision - said the expert, close to the Kremlin
- the actions of the volunteers should be adjusted to avoid conflicts between
them, relief workers and government agencies."
Grigory Kuksin, Greenpeace Russia, it is still too early to judge "what is
clear for now is that this bill seems excessive and unnecessary". The
activist, a leader in coordinating volunteers during the 2010 fires, fears that
"the authorities want more control over the volunteers, who are well
organized and see what is really happening in the country."