St. Petersburg Memorial branch labelled "foreign agent"
ST. PETERSBURG, December 13 (RAPSI) - The Leninsky District Court of St. Petersburg has classed the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, a non-government organization, as a foreign agent, RIA Novosti reported Friday.
“The court has upheld all the plaintiff’s claims and has confirmed that Memorial functions as a foreign agent, which obliges the organization to apply for a registration with the Ministry of Justice and register its logo,” the agency quoted charity’s representative Stefaniya Kulayeva as having said.
A source in law enforcement revealed to RIA Novosti that an inspection at the Memorial center found evidence of political activity.
“Memorial has been predominantly funded by grants from abroad and targeted donations from organizations representing foreign countries. They have received at least 7 million rubles (almost $230,000),” the source said.
In July 2013, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Admiralteisky District of St. Petersburg filed a lawsuit with the Leninsky District Court demanding that the Memorial
Anti-Discrimination Center be recognized a foreign agent and be required to register with the St. Petersburg Main Directorate of the Ministry of Justice.
A federal law was passed last November requiring all NGOs engaged in political activity, and receiving finance from abroad, to register as a “foreign agents,” or face fines of up to 500,000 rubles (app. $16,000). In February, eleven Russian NGOs, Moscow Helsinki Group among them, lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) protesting the law.
Inspections of NGOs began in late March 2013, with the Justice Ministry claiming that the goal was to check that these organizations’ activities corresponded with the objectives of their charters and the Russian legislation. Up to 2,000 rights groups and NGOs in Russia have been raided by prosecutors and other officials, according to some estimates.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that he sees no reason to toughen or liberalize the law, but believes in putting things in order. “Some clear criteria for political activity should be set,” he said in August at the annual youth forum at Lake Seliger in Russia’s Tver Region.