Agora, Memorial NGOs declared ‘foreign agents’
MOSCOW, July 21 (RAPSI) - Russian Justice Ministry on Monday included the human rights watchdog NGOs Agora, Memorial and Public Verdict on the “foreign agent” registry, Public Verdict’s representative Furkat Tishayev told RAPSI.
In May and June, the Zamoskvoretsky District Court of Moscow has rejected the appeals filed by Memorial and Public Verdict against the prosecutor’s office motion to include them in the registry.
According to Tishayev, the NGOs can contest the ruling in the Moscow City Court, but id the appeal will be rejected, it will be exempt from another review as the ruling of the lower court will be confirmed. Tishayev added that this means that the Justice Ministry deprived the NGOs of means of legal recourse.
A federal law was passed in 2012, according to which all NGOs engaged in political activity and receiving foreign funding are required to register as “foreign agents” with the Ministry of Justice. So far, there is only one NGO in Russia registered as a foreign agent. Several others refused to register.
The amendments passed by the Federation Council stipulate that the Ministry of Justice is authorized to add NGOs to the foreign agent register if they operate as foreign agents but even if they did not register. NGOs reserve the right to contest their entry on the list.
The law approved by the senators also expands the list of reasons for unscheduled inspections of NGOs by the Ministry of Justice. Inspections can now be carried out if an organization operates as a foreign agent but is not included in the register.
The Ministry of Justice reports that over 2013, some 2,700 Russian NGOs received funding from abroad for a total of 36 billion rubles ($1 billion), including 10 billion rubles ($290 million) invested in organizations involved in foreign agent activity.