International NGOs that assist citizens suffering from the abuses of corporations and environmental degradation are increasingly seen by governments as nuisances, embarrassments and even as threats to national security. Russia, India and Canada are a few of the nations that have protested against these “meddlers” and looked for ways to keep them out.
At first glance, it seems absurd to say that well-intentioned organizations should be banned and stopped from assisting helpless victims with their struggles for justice. Unfortunately, there are organizations operating across borders who are giving a bad name to the NGOs that truly are independent and focused solely on helping the disenfranchised. These fake NGOs, or once-respected NGOs now compromised by deals with government or corporate agendas, are like undercover cops dressed as black block protesters that show up at peaceful demonstrations and give the larger movement a bad reputation.
A case in point is the recent pressure that Russia put on the Russian NGO, Planet of Hopes. For fifteen years the founder, Nadejda Kutepova, helped victims of the Southern Urals radiation disasters in their struggles to win recognition and compensation. In July 2015, she fled Russia after being vilified in the national television reports and threatened with prosecution for being a “foreign agent” because of one of the donations she accepted. She is now in France where she has applied for asylum.