Foreign agents or human rights defenders? The protection of non-governmental organisations in Russia vis-à-vis Council of Europe model : case study of 2012 "Law of Russian Federation on Foreign Agents"
This thesis examines the compatibility of the Russian framework for protection of non- governmental organisations (NGOs) in law and practice with the model approved by the Council of Europe. While NGOs are recognised as legal personalities and subjects to international law by the Strasbourg system and as key elements of a pluralist democracy, the Russian system does not protect them in the same manner. The author of this thesis argues that the main reason why Russia does not recognise NGOs as ‘equal partners’ is because they may be perceived as a ‘danger’ to its sovereignty and state-centred approach to international law. The thesis focuses on the ‘Law on Foreign Agents’ adopted in 2012 that regulates mainly Russian human rights NGOs. As a result of a legal analysis, the author finds that the individual rights to freedom of assembly and association and expression are not respected in Russia. The issue of protection of NGOs represents yet another landmark in the Russia-Council of Europe human rights partnership which has been since its beginning a ‘battle’ of sovereignty versus interference in the state affairs. Therefore, there still remains a question whether the Western model of individual rights is applicable to the Russian context with its socio- cultural and political specificities.