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Which way?

‘NGO’ has become a dirty word in Russia. The organisations most committed to helping Russia develop a meaningful civil society have become pariahs, branded as ‘foreign agents.’ Under the tightened screws, we are asking the question: ‘Do NGOs in Russia have any future?’

The ongoing crackdown on fundamental freedoms in Russia poses existential questions for Russian civil society. Since Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin, a stream of repressive laws have been passed, giving the authorities expanded, and often abusive, powers to penalize NGOs involved in advocacy activities.

Are we witnessing the demise of Russian civil society? What would happen if, like in Belarus, NGOs are no longer able to operate openly and freely? What, then, is the future for rights groups and activists, the most vocal and consistent critics of Russia’s domestic human rights violations?

With Russia now experiencing more political turbulence, as guest editors of OD Russia’s series “Under the tightened screw,” we believe it essential to raise these issues. We asked five leaders of prominent Russian NGOs to share their personal stories, experiences and expectations.

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