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This piece originally from www.hro.org deals with the recent "Law on Non-Commercial Organisations Performing the Function of Foreign Agents" which has been used to put pressure upon Civil Society.
Aleksandr Cherkasov, director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre and member of the board of the International Memorial Society, answers a question put to him by the journalist Natalya Granina: ‘Is it ethical for Russian non-profit organizations to receive money from abroad?’
Let’s be clear about what is ethical and what is not ethical. Imagine a restaurant. It suddenly turns out that the food there is not very good. And someone calls in the inspectors. The inspector arrives, goes into the kitchen, and comes out with a plastic bag which contains something wrapped up, and says: ‘Everything is fine here. I’ve checked.
It was interesting to spend a few days in South Africa last week and to hear some different perspectives from the media and from those I met with about the resignation of Kofi Annan and the unfolding developments in Syria. The Western media has been lamenting how the protection of civilians in Syria has been cruelly thwarted by the pesky Russians who are determined to maintain a naval base on the Mediterranean. Those I spoke with in Johannesburg were not lacking in compassion for the innocent victims in Syria, but they were much more critical about what they perceived as the duplicity and double standards of Western Governments.
The West is perceived to be seeking to topple an authoritarian regime in Syria not because of any commitment to the human rights of people in Syria, but because of a desire to weaken Iran. Several people pointed out to me that alongside a public strategy of blaming Russia the West has been quietly supporting the efforts of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to arm opposition groups in Syria.