Russian Civil Society activist cleared of charges arising from NGO raids
KOSTROMA, June 24 (RAPSI) - A Lipetsk court has dismissed charges against Irina Shchurko, the president of the Foundation for the Development of Modern Civil Society Institutions, who refused to provide the documents required by prosecutors during sweeping inspections of NGOs due to a lack of offense, Dmitry Kolbasin, the head of the Information Department at the Agora interregional association of human rights organizations, told RIA Novosti on Monday.
Shchurko refused to provide the required documents after inspections of NGOs were launched in accordance with the law on "foreign agents," arguing that the inspections were illegal. She was accused of "failing to comply with prosecutors' requirements" under Article 17.7 of the Administrative Offenses Code.
Sovetsky District Magistrate Natalya Naumova concluded that there was no reliable evidence that the alleged administrative offense actually occurred, and thus dismissed the case.
Last year, President Vladimir Putin approved a law according to which NGOs funded from abroad and engaged in political activities are required to register as foreign agents, or face fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,000) for NGOs and up to 300,000 rubles ($10,000) for NGO directors.
Inspections of NGOs began in late March 2013 when the Justice Ministry said its goal was to check that the organizations' activities correspond with the objectives of their charters and Russian legislation.
The Foundation for the Development of Modern Civil Society Institutions said on its website that it is an NGO focused on research into politics, regional development and modern media.