Civil society - Part 2

posted by julia on 2005/12/16 12:16

[ Civil society ]

Although Russia is out of the geographical focus of this blog, I found the debate on the new NGO draft law proposed by Putin quite interesting. This new draft law, which had been passed quasi unanimously in a first reading in the Duma on 23 November 2005, had been criticised by Western NGOs and governments, the EU, and the Council of Europe. Amnesty International comments that a new law project threatens the independence of civil society in Russia, as it would oblige all local and international NGOs to re-register.

This law would make it easy to ban NGOs which are not in line with the government and which are funded by foreign donors (and President Putin has made clear on several occasions that these NGOs are not very welcome in Russia). The second reading in the Duma, scheduled for 9 December 2005, did not take place, as President Putin ordered a revision of the law. For more information: background article on the webpage and Human Rights Watch briefing paper on civil society in Russia (22.11.2005).

In Azerbaidjan, NGOs are also protesting about intimidating measures from the government. The newly launched Courrier du Caucase (by the team who created the Courrier des Balkans website and mailing list) provides us with some impressions from Baku just before the elections and with an assessment of the helsinki Citizen's assembly which monitored the elections.

The situation in Kazakhstan is not better: The recent elections which confirmed Nazarbaev in power have been condemned as fraudulent by opposition parties and civil society groups (cf. IWPR, 11.12.2005). For more information about the human rights situation and freedom of the media in Central Asia, you can read the transcript of a very interesting roundtable discussion with NGO activits from Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, hosted by RFE/RL on 10 December 2005.

By the way, the Courrier du Caucase and the Courrier des Balkans also have a new "twin site" for Central Asia, the Courrier d'Asie Centrale.



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