MOSCOW, March 13 (RAPSI) – Russia's Ministry of Justice has found that 122 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) failed during the course of 2013 to reveal their foreign sources of finance, in violation of the “foreign agent” law, the ministry’s representative Tatiana Vagina said Thursday at a panel discussion on NGO activities held at the Russian Civic Chamber.
The submission of misleading information is an administrative violation according to the law, the representative said. 28 NGOs were held liable as a result. Other NGOs managed to escape liability by waiting out the statute of limitations, she said.
A federal law was passed in November 2012 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). The law was passed amid protests of NGOs declining to register as foreign agents and critics from international human rights groups.
In February 2013 eleven Russian NGOs, Moscow Helsinki Group among them, lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) protesting the law. Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin and various citizens and NGOs filed applications with the Russian Constitutional Court contesting the law.
By May 2013 not a single Russian NGO financed from abroad and engaged in political activity registered as a "foreign agent". A number of cases against NGOs were filed by authorities with courts. The Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, Freedom of Information Foundation and Golos, a voters' rights advocacy group, were on the blacklist.