Russia labels Prague Civil Society Center an ‘undesirable organization’

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The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has described the Prague Civil Society Center, based in Prague, as an “undesirable organization” that represents a “threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and security” of Russia. The Center has become the thirtieth “undesirable organization” in Russia. The Czech humanitarian organization People in Need, which Russia included on the list last year, took part in establishing the Center. The center said the Russian government had ruled on a law that human rights observers had called inappropriate and a tool to silence activists. According to the Prague Civil Society Center, the law targets Russian citizens who are fighting corruption, enforcing the rule of law, and supporting the most vulnerable sections of society. The center claims that Russia’s goal is to silence independent journalists, bloggers, and other people who oversee the actions of the powerful. “We believe that a bold and creative civil society makes every country a better place for its citizens. We remain committed to supporting civil society in Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” the center noted on its website. “To be honest, it does not surprise us.

The Russian Federation is just continuing to silence uncomfortable organizations and individuals,” commented Tomáš Urban, head of the People in Need media and information projects. The Center has three founders: the Polish Institute of Public Affairs, the Norwegian Human Rights House Foundation, and the Czech non-profit organization People in Need, which won an international tender for its construction. The funding is provided by two private foundations (the C.S. Mott Foundation and the Oak Foundation) and the Czech, American and Swedish governments, People in Need stated on its website. Russia included the humanitarian organization People in Need on the list of undesirable organizations last November. In practice, this means a ban on activities on Russian territory. The head of Czech diplomacy, Tomáš Petříček, immediately after the publication of this information, described the reasons for Russia’s move as absurd. The Czech Foreign Ministry immediately summoned the Russian ambassador and expressed concern about Russia’s actions.

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