Amendments to law on NGO branding?

Compulsory registration of NGO branding may be abolished 21.01.2014 RF


Draft legislation ‘On amendments into certain Russian Federation legislation on issues of NGO branding’, which abolishes the compulsory state registration of NGO branding. Now NGOs would have to include their branding into their articles of association.

This draft legislation has been developed by the Russian Ministry of Justice and approved by the Russian government for discussion in the lower chamber of Parliament, says the Kommersant newspaper. The authors of the legislation believe that the new system will allow organisations to establish symbolic identity. The draft legislation also widens the scope of branding NGOs are permitted to use, for example their own flags and anthems.

The legislation states that the NGO branding must not resemble government or foreign countries’ branding, nor that of political parties or forbidden organisations. In addition, the branding “must not discredit the state flag, coat of arms or the national anthem or Russia or any foreign states, or religious symbols” and “must not offend racial, national or religious beliefs’.

The drafters of this legislation believe its adoption will lead to less red tape for NGOs and the resolution of legal conflicts. It is intended that “the implementation of this draft legislation will enable an additional range of  branding for NGOs, which would give them an opportunity to use the whole spectrum, which was previously only accessible to public bodies and political parties”.

Grigory Melkonyants, co-chairman of the GOLOS Association, an organisation protecting voters’ rights, believes that any such legislation would play straight into the hands of government officials. The expert believes that as every NGO uses branding, if the legislation is approved they would all have to amend their articles of association and pay the relevant state fees.

The draft proposes that the branding used by extremist organisations is included in the register of those organisations. The Kommersant newspaper reports that Minkonyants stated “The government has started regulating NGO branding; they want everything to conform to their view of the world. The important thing is that this does not damage the branding of non-extremist organisations”.

Previously the Ministry of Justice proposed posting on the Internet the list of branding symbols used by organisations abolished for their extremist activities.

by Georgy Ivanushkin

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