Ruling on inclusion of Russian polling NGO in “foreign agents” list upheld
MOSCOW, March 14 (RAPSI, Yevgeniya Sokolova) – The Moscow City Court on Tuesday upheld a decision to add one of Russia’s largest non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Levada-Center, which regularly conducts sociological and market surveys, to the foreign agents list, RAPSI reported from the courtroom.
The court thus dismissed an appeal filed by the NGO against a lower court’s ruling. In November 2016, the Zamoskvoretsky District Court of Moscow found legal the Justice Ministry’s inspection resulted in declaring the Levada-Center a foreign agent.
On September 6, Russia’s Ministry of Justice announced that the Levada-Center had been declared a “foreign agent”.
“Current situation much complicates the work of our organization,” director of the Center Lev Gudkov said earlier. He stated that the “foreign agent” status, which may be interpreted as synonymous to a “spy” could prevent sociological surveys by the Center.
In October, the Moscow Tverskoy District Court fined the NGO 300,000 rubles (about $5,000) over its failure to comply with the “foreign agent” law.
Thus, the autonomous polling and analytical center was found guilty of committing an administrative offence by continuing its activities, but failing to register its “foreign agent” status with the Russian Justice Ministry.
The law adopted in November 2012 requires that all NGOs engaged in political activity and receiving foreign funding register as “foreign agents”.
Under the amendments to the law, which were adopted this year, political activity is linked to such fields as state-building, securing Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, enforcement of law, order and security, national defense, foreign policy, political system integrity, social and economic and national development of the country, regulation of rights and freedoms of man and citizen.
NGOs which are engaged in organization and holding of public events, including meetings, manifestations, demonstrations, discussions and performances would be deemed to be involved in political activity.
Moreover, those NGOs which are involved in work aimed at achieving certain results during elections or referendum, vote monitoring practices, establishment of election commissions or support of political parties would also be put on the list of those organizations which are engaged in political activity.
Levada-Center, named after famous Russian sociologist Yury Levada, is one of the largest Russian NGOs that conducts sociological and market surveys.