Justice Ministry orders election watchdog GOLOS to register as foreign agent
MOSCOW, June 21 (RAPSI) - The Justice Ministry insists that the GOLOS Association register as foreign agent despite the organization's assurances that it has not received foreign funding since November, the ministry press office told RIA Novosti.
On April 25, GOLOS was fined 300,000 rubles ($9,500) for violating the so-called foreign agent law. Executive Director Liliya Shibanova was fined 100,000 rubles ($3,200) as well.
GOLOS Deputy Executive Director Grigory Melkonyants told RIA Novosti that the NGO was no longer receiving funding from abroad and that he had asked the Ministry in a letter whether Golos had to register as a foreign agent retroactively.
According to Shibanova, GOLOS has not received any financial contributions from foreign entities since November 2012 when the new NGO legislation took effect.
The Ministry has told RIA Novosti that it has received GOLOS's request.
"In response to the association's request, the ministry replied that GOLOS was required to apply for registration as an NGO which acts as a foreign agent," the ministry source said.
The GOLOS Association was founded in 2000 with the aim of protecting the rights of Russian voters and to promote civil society development, according to the association's website.
It is the first NGO to face a penalty based on the new federal law approved by President Vladimir Putin last year which requires any organization involved in political activities in Russia and financed from abroad to file for foreign agent status. Violation of the law is punishable by fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,000) for NGOs and up to 300,000 rubles ($10,000) for NGO directors.