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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Many Russian NGOs face 'foreign agent' label

By Fred Weir





The crackdown continues


JewishWorldReview.com |

mOSCOW — (TCSM) Russian civil society activists are sounding an alarm over a draft law poised to be rushed through by the pro-Kremlin United Russia majority in the State Duma, requiring any political non-governmental organization that receives funding from sources outside Russia to label itself as a "foreign agent" in its public activities.

Activists say the new bill is a companion to the draconian law on protests, which shot through all the legislative hoops and was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in the space of barely a week last month. They warn that the bill's definition of political activity — any attempt to "influence state policy or public opinion" — casts such a wide net that authorities will inevitably use it against any target they choose. An organization that refuses to register as a "foreign agent" could be suspended for up to six months without a court order, under the draft law.

Many view it as part of a spreading crackdown that they say is aimed at snuffing out the political protest movement and snipping off what the Kremlin views as the movement's roots in election monitoring, human rights, environmental and other civil society groups that challenge authorities on various levels. Although the label "foreign agent" — which is synonymous with "spy" in Russian — may not frighten people in more sophisticated Moscow circles, NGO leaders say, it's likely to cast a chill over their activities in the Russian regions to which they are trying to expand their work.


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Supporters of the bill argue that it's similar in thrust to the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which was enacted in 1938. The law's main purpose is "to insure that the US Government and the people of the United States are informed of the source of information [propaganda] and the identity of persons attempting to influence US public opinion, policy, and laws," according to the Department of Justice website.

RUSSIANS 'HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW'
One of the Russian bill's six authors, United Russia deputy Alexander Sidyakin, says the authors studied FARA closely and have produced a draft that is in line with international standards.

"We divided NGOs into two groups, those that are involved in political activities and those that aren't," Mr. Sidyakin says. "The law will not influence the activity of groups that are involved in humanitarian [charity] projects, or those who defend human rights or animal rights. But political activity, like the monitoring of elections or management of political actions is another matter, and such organizations have to be registered. Russian citizens have a right to know about them," he says.

But Russian NGO leaders, who held a press conference in Moscow on Thursday to register their objections, insist that the comparison is badly misplaced. For one thing, they argue, FARA covers those organizations and individuals that operate in the US "under direction and control of a foreign principal." The Russian law, meanwhile, will apply to any organization that receives any amount of funding from any outside source. In practice, the US law is today aimed mainly at lobbyists who publicize or fund-raise directly for a foreign government, political movement, or other clearly identifiable foreign cause. For example, the US Communist Party — despite being persecuted in a variety of ways during the McCarthy era — was never compelled to register as a "foreign agent" under FARA.

Leaders of Russian civil society groups say they have already adapted to a tough 2005 law on NGOs that forced them to undergo strict registration procedures and divulge all their sources of funding and describe their activities in documentary detail in biannual reports. They say this law is basically intended to falsely "name and shame" them as foreign agents.

"The purpose of this is just to humiliate public organizations, to discredit us, to make it seem to people that we are engaged in some sort of secret work, not disclosing our funding or reporting to the state. But this is a lie," says Svetlana Gannuskina, who works with Russia's huge community of migrant workers and pushes publicly for immigration reform. "We render double reports, everything is absolutely transparent. If there's the slightest problem with our paperwork the authorities immediately put us under a magnifying glass."

'BEGINNING OF A WITCH HUNT'
Andrei Buzin, an expert with the election monitoring grassroots group Golos — one of the groups specifically singled out under the draft law — says the group's activities have always been completely nonpartisan, but they triggered the authorities ire last December by documenting thousands of examples of electoral fraud in the State Duma elections that saw United Russia returned with a reduced but still-commanding majority.

"I think this draft law is the beginning of a witch hunt. The authorities want to shut down independent sources of information because that undermines their grip on power," Mr. Buzin says.

He adds that Golos, which receives funding from a wide variety of outside sources, finds it difficult to get funding in Russia. "There is some financing here in Russia, some of it administered by the Public Chamber (the government-sponsored civil society assembly). We do get some of that funding, but it's been inexplicably cut in the past few years. Grants do not seem to be distributed according to criteria of quality and effectiveness, but other factors."

Mr. Sidyakin, one of the bill's authors, says GOLOS — which fielded the largest contingent of observers in the Duma elections — "did not make a single positive declaration about the elections. Everything was bad, everything was wrong. So why shouldn't people be told that they were doing it for foreign money?" he says.

STARVED FOR FUNDING
The biggest problem for independent civil society groups who want to "influence public opinion" on any issue, is that they will find themselves starved for funding in Russia if they move into any sort of friction with the authorities, experts say.

"The Russian government has long since intimidated the business community into submission. Russian businesses know better than to donate to anything that may be deemed unwelcome to the authorities," says Masha Lipman, editor of the Moscow Carnegie Center's Pro et Contra journal (which also may soon have to carry a "foreign agent" label, since much of its funding comes from theMacArthur Foundation).

"The key point here is the draft law's assumption that any Russian group which receives foreign funding are automatically agents. That's not at all the case," says Ms. Lipman. "Foreign grant money is an instrument of autonomy for most of these organizations, it gives them the ability to act independently. And that's what our authorities are really suspicious of."

Some Russian NGOs say they will resist registering under the new law, which everyone — including Sidyakin — says they expect to be in place before autumn.

"The civil organization I head is not engaged in political activity. We focus on educational activity and [human rights] monitoring, and we have done so since the Soviet times," says Lyudmilla Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, Russia's oldest human rights organization. "Under no conditions will we register as a 'foreign agent,' no matter what laws they adopt."

Lipman says the Kremlin is taking aim at the wrong target.

"The fact is that NGOs played no role in the appearance of the protest movement, with the exception of GOLOS, which reported on massive election fraud," she says. "NGOs are vulnerable because they have offices, budgets, and do social outreach. But the real target of these laws and crackdowns is something not so tangible, it's the changed perceptions of politics and government by the Russian public," she says.

In recent months tens of thousands of Russians have abandoned their former political apathy and taken to the streets to demand fair elections, an end to corruption, and that Mr. Putin step down.

"The authorities can't reverse this shift in these ways, but that's what they're trying to do," Lipman says.

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© 2012, The Christian Science Monitor