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Monday, March 19, 2018

Bayonet equated to the poll

The policy we have can be called anything. The confirmation of the foreign agent. First in the black list includes environmental and human rights organizations, then — AIDS-service NGOs now came for the sociologists. On Monday, the Ministry of justice has included in the registry of foreign agents Analytical center of Yuri Levada.

photo: Roman Orlov

According to the law on NGOs — foreign agents entered in the register of organizations that receive money and other property from foreign sources and engaged in political activities (№121 — FZ of 20.07.2012).

Did the “Levada-center” political activities?

In the law, clarifying this concept (it is, incidentally, criticized the Council for human rights under the President for what political now you can understand any activity), States that to political activity includes any attempt to shape socio-political attitudes and beliefs, “including by carrying out and publishing sociological research. In other words, political activity can be recognized as so-called formative sociology. It is not so much interested in the opinion of the Respondent about how the information he provides. Compare two questions: “who do you think will win the election?” and “How do you think will win if Mr N in the elections?”. The first question is the science, asking the opinion of the Respondent, and the second is a political strategy here the respondents say that Mr. N is a great chance for victory.

Can and rougher: “How do you think will win if Mr N in the elections, because he defended the rights of the residents?” Here, the Respondent already draw the image of the candidate-human rights activist. With this knowledge, the Respondent goes to the polling station and may vote for Mr N, because he has formed the belief that the N — rights activist with big chances to win.

View now recent polls, “Levada-center”. Sociologists ask: “are you Interested in the upcoming September elections to the state Duma?”, “What are the qualities of a MP?”, “What political party you know?” If these questions form the belief, only that in September there will be elections to the state Duma and the country’s political parties. But these are facts. No excess information, encouraging the Respondent to change their views or make a decision in these surveys, no. The Director of “Levada-center” Lev Gudkov told “MK” that the inspection of the Ministry of justice in political activities is recognized even consumer study of toiletries, which was conducted by sociologists. To see the inspection report we have not succeeded, it is information protected by the trade secrets act. Lev Gudkov said that the center will publish the document as soon as the sociologists will get permission to publish from the organizations mentioned there. Most likely, there will be a lot interesting.

Does the “Levada-center” money from foreign sources? The justice Ministry insists that the bulk of funding NGOs receive from the United States, in the office mentioned a grant from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the “parent institution in which is listed the US Department of defense”. However, Lev Gudkov told “MK” that after the adoption of the law on foreign agents, the centre does not receive any grants. In the financial report “Levada”, published on the website of the Ministry of justice in April of this year, there is mention of the project “Public opinion about the problems of protection of rights and freedoms in Russia” and “the Confrontation of logics”: the doctor, the patient and the government in terms of reforming the health system”. Gudkov said the “MK” that the question here is not about grants, and commercial contracts that may enter into any non-profit organization. According to the Deputy Director of the center Alexei Grazhdankin, the organization had only signed the contract on carrying out of sociological and marketing and methodological studies commissioned by foreign research universities. “We do not say that we are funding a company to manufacture dairy products if buy its products. So buy our study,” he explained. By the way, in the Council on human rights under the President repeatedly said that the regulations on foreign funding, the law needs to be clarified. In particular, the head of the HRC cited the example of a ballpoint pen, which can also be attributed to other assets, received from abroad, and on this basis to recognize the organizing a foreign agent.

The conclusion of this story is. The concept of “political activity” and “obtaining of property from abroad” too comprehensive, so in the registry of foreign agents enter the organization have a policy attitude is very mediocre.

PS the head of the Council on human rights under the President of the Russian Federation Mikhail Fedotov said that “Levada-the centre” can be excluded from the registry of foreign agents, if preregistered as a commercial organization. The lawyer of the lawyers ‘ Club NCO Max Alenichev explained “MK”, and commercial organizations, and non-profit organizations can conduct income-generating activities, the tax burden they are identical. However, NGOs, unlike commercial organizations can secure funding and grants, which do not need to pay income tax if it was spent purposefully. If “Levada-center” does not receive grants, why would it then not to go the way proposed by Fedotov? But it’s almost impossible. “The fact that the NGO law cannot change the legal status, only the complete elimination of the NGOs,” — said “MK” Lev Gudkov.


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