- Amend the 2006 NGO law and relevant implementing regulations to remove the most restrictive provisions, which include:
o Articles that allow officials to order an unlimited number of intrusive inspections and be present at all NGO events, as well as articles allowing the Registration Service to request dissolution of organizations for not submitting reports and other information;
o The article granting officials the authority, regarding foreign NGOs, to ban projects or parts of projects that officials believe violate Russias national interests, and articles requiring them to inform the Registration Service in advance about their projects and about the money allotted for each specific project.
- Ensure that Registration Service officials apply the law consistently across the country.
- Reorient the Registration Services terms of engagement with NGOs. Instead of seeking primarily to punish NGOs for infractions the Registration Service should seek to educate NGOs about their legal obligations and assist them in preventing and correcting any administrative violations.
- Ensure Registration Service officials use their discretion to impose only those obligations and burdens on NGOs that are legal, strictly necessary, and proportionate, and that foster an environment in which civil society can operate freely.
- End unlawful interference, harassment, and intimidation of NGOs and their staff.
- Refrain from interfering with lawful NGO activities.
- Thoroughly investigate any cases of unlawful interference, harassment, or intimidation of NGOs, human rights defenders, or civil society activists.
- Ensure anti-extremism laws are not used to prevent or interfere with peaceful expression of dissent.
- To demonstrate that anti-extremism legislation will not be used arbitrarily, exonerate Russian-Chechen Friendship Society director Stanislav Dmitrievsky and re-register the organization.
- Issue a standing invitation to the UN special representative on human rights defenders to visit the country.
- Use public opportunities by government spokespersons at all levels to reinforce the message and policy that NGO work is essential to a democratic society and is supported by the government.
To Russias International Partners, particularly the European Union and the Council of Europe
- Seize every opportunity to raise strong concern about the plight of civil society in Russia and call on the Russian government to take concrete steps to foster an environment in which civil society can operate freely.
- Challenge Russian government statements that the restrictions of the 2006 NGO law imposed on foreign and Russian NGOs alike are standard in democratic societies.
- Encourage the Russian government to uphold freedom of expression and association by bringing legislation regulating civil society and its implementation into line with Russias European and international commitments.
- Publicly express support for the work of NGOs and continue to support them financially and otherwise. Engage Russian civil society groups more intensively in the work of international forums, thus stressing the importance of their work.
- Express deep concern about instances of unlawful interference, harassment, and intimidation of NGOs and their staff and request thorough investigation of each such case.
- Underscore that official harassment of NGOs and restrictions imposed by the NGO law will make Russia vulnerable to litigation at the European Court of Human Rights.
- Encourage the Russian government to issue a standing invitation to the UN special representative on human rights defenders to visit the country.
- Continue to support Russian civil society groups financially, in particular helping them to cover legal costs associated with withstanding judicial harassment and complying with requirements imposed by the 2006 NGO law.