Russia Accuses Jewish Group of Being 'Foreign Agent'

Russia’s Justice Ministry placed a Jewish cultural association with ties to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee on its list of nongovernmental organizations defined as “foreign agents.”

The Hesed-Tshuva group, which is based in the city of Ryazan located 120 miles south of Moscow, was placed on the list on Sept. 11, according to a report Tuesday by the news website hro.org.

The list was set up in accordance with a law which Russia’s parliament adopted in 2012, that requires nongovernmental organizations to register as “foreign agents” with the Ministry of Justice if they engage in “political activity” and receive foreign funding.

According to Human Rights Watch, the definition of “political activity” under the law is “so broad and vague that it can extend to all aspects of advocacy and human rights work.”

Article 20, a Russian watchdog on human rights, reported the reason for the registration was not specified but that the Hesed-Tshuva group in question was registered as receiving donations only from the Joint Distribution Committee, or JDC.

The Hesed-Tshuva group is the first addition to the list of approximately 100 foreign agent NGOs that is described in its statute as a Jewish organization.

The JDC network of Hesed offices (Hebrew for kindness or virtue) supply various forms of aid, from food packages to medical care, to Jewish individuals in need across Russia and the former Soviet Union. JDC’s policy in Russia and in other countries around the world is to avoid taking part in partisan activities.

But on the Justice Ministry’s website, Hesed-Tshuva is described as having the goal of “influencing decision-making bodies of the state, aimed at changing state policy pursued as by them.”

Under “political activities” attributed to Hesed-Tshuva, the ministry listed: “conducting public events, shaping public opinion.”

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Russia Accuses Jewish Group of Being 'Foreign Agent'

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close