Russian government grants to be provided to 124 NGO projects out of over 700 bidding
The Moscow Helsinki Group, the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees, Memorial Society, and the Agora association are among the winners of a tender for government grants, the For Civil Dignity movement led by Ella Pamfilova reported on Thursday.
"As many as 124 projects from 47 regions of Russia have been declared the winners of the tender," For Civil Dignity said on its website.
"Taking part in the tender were 713 projects from more than a hundred cities and rural settlements of Russia. At the preliminary stage, 246 bids obviously not meeting the tender specifics or formal requirements were rejected. There are quite a lot of projects related to other subjects among them, which could well be submitted to grant operators dealing with such specifics at the next tender," it said.
The Moscow Helsinki Group will receive a presidential grant in an amount of 3.3 million rubles (over $99,000) for the development of a public control system through improving the efficiency of the work of members of public monitoring commissions. The Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees will be provided with a 1.9-million-ruble ($57,000) grant to improve methods of protecting the rights of draft servicemen, Civil Dignity said.
Memorial Society will get 3.7 million rubles ($111,234) for the program 'Teenagers, Secondary Education, and Human Rights'.
The Agora association will receive 2.4 million rubles ($72,150) for the project called 'Agora's Law School', and Public Verdict Foundation will receive 2.6 million rubles ($78,165) to promote human rights in the course of police reform.
The Memorial human rights center will be provided with 5 million rubles to establish a network of free legal advice offices for refugees, people without citizenship and migrant workers. Civil Control from St. Petersburg will receive 3.6 million rubles ($108,230) for a project aimed at improving competency of NGOs providing free legal aid to financially and socially disadvantaged individuals.
Mother's Right Foundation will receive 4.2 million rubles ($126,265) to provide free legal advice to families of deceased servicemen. The Sova center will be provided with 947,000 rubles ($28,470) to implement a project aimed at promoting public debates on problems of freedom of conscience.
Public Resistance will receive a 4-million-ruble ($120,250) grant for a project related to legal education.
The movement For Human Rights will receive 3.9 million rubles ($117,250) to finance the project called 'Law as Incubator for Rights Defenders'.
Interfax reported on September 19 that the Russian leadership had ordered that 250 million rubles ($7.5 million) be furnished to three Russian operators to conduct tenders for distributing grants for NGOs in 2013.
In particular, the government decided to allocate 200 million rubles to Civil Dignity, 25 million rubles ($750,000) to National Charity Foundation, and 25 million rubles to Knowledge Society.
These three organizations were supposed to set up tender commissions to select bids for grants, ensuring full transparency of the procedure. Along with the Russian Public Chamber, they were tasked with providing informational support of the tenders through publishing relevant information on the public chambers' websites and in the media.
A presidential decree published earlier said the government would allocate 500 million rubles (about $15 million) to Civil Dignity in 2014-2016 for support of Russian NGOs.
Head of the Russian presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov said this money is comparable with the grants that Russian NGOs receive from abroad.
Memorial historical and civil rights society head Arseny Roginsky told journalists that the financing of Russian NGOs decreased after the major Western donors, i.e. the Ford Foundation and USAID, curtailed their operations in Russia. "We so far can't understand whether Russian money can make up for this," Roginsky said with reference to Russian government grants for the NGOs.
"We don't see it as shameful and consider it rightful to bid in a tender for government grants when this doesn't lead to a conflict of interest," Roginsky said. In particular, the Memorial society received a government grant earlier this fall for a project dealing with rehabilitation of victims of political reprisals, and the Memorial human rights center, which is part of the Memorial society, received government financing for issuing a bulletin on human rights in the North Caucasus.
Leading Russian organizations are boycotting recent amendments to the law on NGOs, which require organizations receiving foreign grants and dealing with politics to be registered as foreign agents.