Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg NGO fights against foreign agent status
MOSCOW, September 8 (RAPSI) – Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg NGO protest against labeling the organization as a 'foreign agent' and want the Ministry of Justice to remove it from the blacklist, Kommersant newspaper reported on Monday.
According to a federal law, which came into effect in November 2012, the NGOs engaged in political activity and receiving foreign funding are required to register as “foreign agents” with the Ministry of Justice. Last summer the law was amended, and the Ministry of Justice was authorized to add even unregistered NGOs to Foreign Agents List at its own discretion.
The Ministry of Justice blacklisted the Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg in late August.
Ella Polyakova, the head of the St. Petersburg branch of the Soldiers' Mothers group, argued that the NGO did not fall under the law because it did not receive any foreign funds and was not engaged in political activity. She vowed to contest the ministry’s decision in court.
Notably, the NGO was put on the list of foreign agents after Polyakova alleged in an interview with television channel Dozhd that Russian soldiers were paid to fight in Ukraine.
A group of Russian human rights activists challenged the controversial law in the Constitutional Court, which ruled last April that the law was valid. The court recognized the constitutionality of a legal provision that obligates NGOs to register as foreign agents.