On January 17, 2006, Russia adopted a new federal law amending the legal framework governing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and giving the government greater control over NGO activity. On July 8, 2005, the President of Kazakhstan signed a new Law on National Security introducing criminal and administrative liability for those who manage or participate in informal associations, such as neighborhood associations. No fewer than five new presidential decrees, edicts, and ministry resolutions were issued in Belarus during 2005, each of which tightened government control over NGOs operating in the country.
These are not isolated events. They are part of a growing regulatory backlash against NGOs in many parts of the world. In little more than a year, over twenty countries globally have introduced restrictive regulations aimed at undermining civil society (including at least five countries in Europe and Eurasia.) These countries join scores of others with existing laws, policies and practices that stifle the work of civil society organizations.