Russian President Dmitry Medvedev launched a legislative review of restrictions placed on non-governmental organizations under Putin’s tenure.


The review is the latest step by President Dmitry Medvedev, who succeeded Putin last year, which promises to strengthen civil society.

On May 14 Medvedev’s powerful first deputy chief of staff, Vladislav Surkov, will oversee a group of parliament deputies and NGO workers to review the NGO laws, said Ella Pamfilova, a leading rights figure who will take part in the discussions.

The talks will cover about a third of Russia’s NGOs — mainly groups that do not require paid membership.  The group will report on its findings by the end of May.

Yet, the last set of legislation aimed at protecting NGOs also included provisions allowing the government to shut them down:

In 2006 Russia introduced a series of laws that it said were designed to stop terrorists, money launderers, and foreign spy groups using NGOs as cover.  But rights groups criticized them for being laden with unnecessary paperwork and for enabling the authorities to close down organizations.

It seems unlikely this time around will be very different.

Peter Cassata is associate editor of the Atlantic Council.