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Russia: "Foreign Agents" Law Hits Hundreds of NGOs: Updated March 5, 2014

Source: Human Rights Watch - Wed, 5 Mar 2014 06:00 GMT
Author: Human Rights Watch
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In early March 2013 the Russian government launched an unprecedented, nationwide campaign of inspections of thousands of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to identify advocacy groups the government deems "foreign agents" and force them to register as such. This list tracks the legal consequences of the law on dozens of NGOs.

In early March 2013 the Russian government launched an unprecedented, nationwide campaign of inspections of thousands of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to identify advocacy groups the government deems "foreign agents" and force them to register as such. The list below tracks the legal consequences of the law on dozens of NGOs.

Since the beginning of the "foreign agents" campaign, various prosecutors' offices and the Ministry of Justice filed nine administrative cases against NGOs and an additional five administrative cases against NGO leaders for failure to register under the "foreign agents" law. Prosecutors lost nine of these fourteen cases in courts. These were cases filed against the Perm Regional Human Rights Center, the GRANI Center for Civic Analysis and Independent Research, the Perm Civic Chamber, the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival and its director, Coming Out (an LGBT group) and its director, and the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center and its director. The prosecutors won administrative cases against the Kostroma Center for Support of Public Initiatives and the center's director.

The Ministry of Justice filed administrative cases against the Golos Association, an election monitoring group, and its director and against Regional Golos, and won all three cases in courts. Additionally, the prosecutors brought civil law suits against four NGOs: Women of Don in Novocherkassk, the Center for Social Policy and Gender Studies in Saratov, LGBT organization "Coming out" and Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center in Saint-Petersburg. Notably, the suits against the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center and LGBT organization "Coming out" were nearly identical to the administrative cases against groups that the prosecutors had lost. Two of these organizations, Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center and Center for Social Policy and Gender Studies, lost the civil law suits in district courts and are presently appealing those rulings.

The Ministry of Justice ordered the two NGOs against which it had filed administrative cases (both Golos groups) to suspend their activities for several months. Also, at least four groups (the Golos Association, the Kostroma Center for Support of Public Initiatives, the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival and Anti-Discrimination Center "Memorial") initiated proceedings on their own to wind up operations in order to avoid further repressive legal action.

The prosecutors also filed at least 13 administrative cases against NGOs for refusing to provide documents during the inspection campaign and lost four of them (against the Foundation for Development of Modern Civil Society Institutions in Lipetsk, "Petersburg Aegis" in St. Petersburg and two against the Rainbow Foundation in Moscow).

At least 11 NGOs filed lawsuits against prosecutors' notices ordering the groups to register under the "foreign agents" law, which they had received in the wake of the inspection campaign. By late December, at least five groups won their cases (Yekaterinburg's Information and Human Rights Center, Perm's GRANI Center for Civic Analysis and Independent Research, Perm Civic Chamber, Perm Human Rights Center and the Perm Youth Memorial).

Human Rights Watch is also aware of at least four NGOs in different regions of Russia that succeeded in getting the prosecutors' warnings annulled in courts (MASHR in Ingushetia, the Movement for Fair Elections in Kurgan, Golos in Siberia and Memorial in Ryazan). At least two more warnings (against Assistance to Cystic Fibrosis Patients in Moscow region and the Phoenix Foundation in Vladivostok, respectively) were revoked by the prosecutor's offices themselves.

Thirteen leading rights groups jointly filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights challenging the "foreign agents" law. The application is currently under review. In August Russia's ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, filed an appeal with the country's Constitutional Court on behalf of four organizations challenging warnings from the prosecutor's offices to register and fines groups had incurred for failing to register. Four other groups filed separate petitions with the Constitutional Court challenging the "foreign agents" measure's compliance with the Russian constitution. The Constitutional Court hearings on these cases are scheduled for March 6, 2014.

I. Civil law suits - 4 NGOs

The Russian Civil Procedure Code gives the prosecutor's office powers to file a civil law suit "in defense of rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of citizens, general public or interests of the Russian Federation, its subjects and municipal entities." Prosecutors began to use this provision against NGOs in order to force them register as "foreign agents." If the prosecutors win those suits in court, relevant groups will have to register as "foreign agent" organizations within two weeks of the court ruling coming into force.

Anti-Discrimination Center "Memorial" (St. Petersburg)

After the courts repeatedly quashed the prosecutors' administrative cases against ADC "Memorial" and its director due to a number of violations in case files (for details, see Section III), on July 12, 2013 the prosecutor's office filed a civil law suit against the group claiming that its failure to register as a "foreign agent" was unlawful and impaired the legitimate interests of the general public. The arguments used in this civil suit are similar to the ones used in the administrative cases against the group, which had been rejected by the courts. Court hearings on the civil suit started on August 5, 2013 but were three times to date. On November 25, 2013 the prosecutor petitioned the judge that the group's activities should be recognized as "foreign agent's activities". Also the prosecutor presented new expert evaluation concluding that ADC "Memorial" carried out "political activities" according to the Russia legislation on political parties. On December 12, 2013 the judge supported the prosecutor's demand and ruled that the group should register as a "foreign agent" NGO. The group appealed the verdict on January 17, 2014 but at the same time announced that it was going to shut down and had already started the dissolution process.

"Coming Out" (St. Petersburg)

Though both district and Saint-Petersburg city courts overturned the verdicts in administrative cases to fine the group and its director on August 14 and September 27, 2013 (for details, see Section III), Saint-Petersburg Central district prosecutor filed civil law suit case against the group on October 29. First court hearings were scheduled on November 20, 2013 but have been postponed four times to date. The hearings are presently scheduled for March 12, 2014 following on the anticipated ruling of Russia's Constitutional Court on the "foreign agents" law.

Women of Don (Novocherkassk)

On September 3, after Women of Don had refused to comply with the prosecutors' orders to register as a "foreign agent" organization (for details, see Section IV), the prosecutor's office filed a civil law suit against the group. The suit argues that the group engaged in "political activities," inter alia, by publishing on its website its annual reports on activities, which the group submitted to the Ministry of Justice as required by law. According to the prosecutors, the information included in the report on roundtables and other public events organized by the group to discuss the issue of police reform "shapes public opinion and is aimed at changing government policies." Court hearings started on October 31. At the last hearing which took place on December 11 the court granted the request of the defense to order an independent expert examination, which was was due on January 27, 2014, but is not ready yet.

Center for Social Policy and Gender Studies (Saratov)

After the group disagreed with the prosecutor's notice of violations (for details, see Section IV), on September 10 the prosecutor's office filed a civil law suit against the group. In addition to the group's activities, which were previously cited as "political" in the notice of violations, the prosecutor's lawsuit also mentions a petition campaign that several activists started to protect the group from the "foreign agents" law and a public statement made in support of the group by a number of Dutch NGOs. The latter, according to the prosecutor, demonstrates that "the organization's foreign colleagues position it as an organization participating in the country's public and political life, influencing the development of democratic processes in the country, i.e. as political." Court hearings started on September 20 but were postponed three times until November 27. On November 27, the judge supported the prosecutor's demand and ruled that the group should register as a "foreign agent" NGO. The group appealed the verdict, but on lost the appeal in the Saratov regional court  on February 18. The ruling  entered into force.

II. Suspension of activities - 2 NGOs

If the authorities consider that a group is performing the functions of a "foreign agent', but has not submitted the documents to register itself as such, the Ministry of Justice may order the activities to be suspended for a period of up to six months. During this period the group may not appear in mass media, organize public actions, or use its bank accounts.

Association of NGOs in Defence of Voters' Rights "Golos" (Moscow)

In April a court found the group and its director guilty of violating the law on "foreign agents" and fined both of them (for details, please, see Section III). Following this, on June 25, 2013 the Ministry of Justice ordered that the group's activities be suspended for six months. On July 15, 2013 the group lodged a judicial appeal against the decision. On December 13, 2013 the Gagarinskiy district court in Moscow rejected the group's appeal. The group appealed the ruling, but its work remains suspended.

Regional Public Association in Defense of Democratic Rights and Freedoms "Golos" (Moscow)

In April a court found the group guilty of violating the law on "foreign agents" and fined it (for details, see Section III). Following this, on September 30, 2013 the Ministry of Justice ordered that its activities be suspended for three months. The group filed for a judicial appeal. Court hearings were scheduled to start on February 17 and then postponed until March 14.

III. Administrative Court Cases - 9 NGOs

If a court of law finds an organization responsible for failure to register as a "foreign agent," these groups may be fined up to 500,000 rubles (over US$16,000) and their leaders personally - up to 300,000 rubles (approximately $10,000).

Association of NGOs in Defense of Voters' Rights "Golos" (Moscow)

According to the protocol from the Ministry of Justice dated April 9, 2013 the group drafted and promoted a unified Electoral Code and allegedly received foreign funding in the form of the Andrey Sakharov Freedom Award from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC). Notably, Golos had sent the monetary prize in question back to the NHC. The organization was fined 300,000 rubles (approximately $10,000) by the Presnenskiy court of Moscow on April 25, 2013. The head of Golos was also personally fined 100,000 rubles (approximately $3,300). Golos appealed the court ruling on May 8, 2013. On June 14, 2013 the appeals court upheld the ruling of the Presnenskiy Court.

KostromaCenter for Support of Public Initiatives (Kostroma)

According to the protocol from the Kostroma regional prosecutor's office dated April 15, 2013 the group conducted a roundtable on United States-Russia relations attended by a US embassy representative. On May 29 a Kostroma court found the group in violation of the "foreign agents" law and fined the group 300,000 rubles (approximately $10,000). The group's leader was also personally fined 100,000 rubles (approximately $3,300). The group appealed the ruling. Court hearings started on July 29, 2013 but were postponed until August 12. On August 12 the appeals court upheld the ruling. Following this, on August 13, 2013 the group filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court challenging the law on "foreign agents" as violating freedom of association guaranteed by the Russian Constitution.

Anti-Discrimination Center "Memorial" (St. Petersburg)

According to the protocol from the Admiralteyskiy District prosecutor's office of St. Petersburg dated April 30, 2013 the group receives foreign funding and published a report on police abuse of Roma, migrants, and civil activists that was presented to the United Nations Committee Against Torture. On May 27, 2013 the court returned the case to the prosecutor's office as unsubstantiated. The prosecutor's office sought to overturn the court's ruling, but on June 27, 2013 and July 16, 2013 higher courts dismissed the prosecutor's appeal. On October 7, 2013 the Leninsky District Court again dismissed the prosecutor office's appeal against its director and the organization itself. On December 5, 2013 the deputy city prosecutor of St. Petersburg appealed the verdict. On December 16, 2013 the prosecutor's appeal was rejected by court.

 "Coming Out" (St. Petersburg)

According to the protocol from the Central District prosecutor's office of St. Petersburg dated April 30, 2013 this LGBT rights group receives funding from the Consulate General of the Netherlands and the Embassy of Norway and allegedly engaged in "political activities," in particular by holding a silent rally using the slogans, "We are for traditional values: love, family, respect of human dignity" (organized by independent activists), by organizing a campaign against the adoption of the ban on "homosexual propaganda" in St. Petersburg (notably, the campaign was conducted before the "foreign agents" law came into effect), and by publishing the brochure, "Discrimination of LGBT Individuals: What, How and Why?" Administrative court hearings started on May 27, 2013 and were postponed twice until June 19, 2013. On June 19 a St. Petersburg court ruled the group had violated the law and fined it 500,000 rubles (approximately $16,500). On June 25, 2013 the court also fined the group's director 300,000 rubles (approximately $10,000) for violating the law. The group appealed the court ruling and on July 25, 2013 the appeals court vacated the ruling and returned it to the court of first instance for re-examination. On August 14, 2013 the appeals court also vacated the ruling to fine the group's director and closed the case against her. On September 27, 2013 the St. Petersburg City Court also vacated the ruling to fine the organization itself and closed the case against it by formal reason.

"Side by Side" LGBT Film Festival (St. Petersburg)

According to the protocol from the Central District prosecutor's office of St. Petersburg dated May 6, the group published a brochure titled, "The International LGBT Movement: from Local Practices to Global Politics" and participated in a public awareness-raising campaign, "Let's Stop the Homophobic Bill Together." Notably, the campaign was conducted in 2011, before the "foreign agents" law entered into force. On June 6, 2013 a local court in St. Petersburg ruled the group had violated the law and fined it 500,000 rubles (approximately $16,500). The group appealed the court ruling. On July 26 the appeals court upheld it but reduced the size of the fine to 400,000 rubles (approximately $13,000). The ruling entered into force on July 26, 2013. On October 4, 2013 the St. Petersburg City Court vacated the ruling fining the organization itself and closed the case against it because of the previous verdict's procedure violation.

On August 9, 2013 a court also fined Side by Side's director 300,000 rubles (approximately $10,000) for violating the "foreign agents" law, but on November 11 the appeals court vacated this ruling.

Regional Public Association in Defense of Democratic Rights and Freedoms "Golos" (Moscow)

According to the protocol from the Ministry of Justice dated May 13, 2013 in December 2012 the group - a member of the "Golos" Association - allegedly received foreign funding of more than 4 million rubles (approximately $133,000) in total and conducted work on the project, "Raising transparency of the Russian electoral process by discussing and promoting a unified Electoral Code." On June 4, 2013 a Moscow court ruled the group had violated the law and fined it 300,000 rubles (approximately $10,000). The group appealed the ruling. On September 17, 2013 a higher instance court rejected the group's appeal.

Center for Civic Analysis and Independent Research / GRANI (Perm)

According to the protocol from the Perm regional prosecutor's office dated June 6, 2013 the inspection of the group's activities in April 2013 revealed violations of the law on "foreign agents." The group in 2013 received foreign funding of 751,000 rubles (approximately $25,000) and allegedly engaged in "political activities" by shaping public opinion on state policies. In 2013 the group published the results of the study, "Russian non-political activism" conducted in 2012 under a project funded by the C.S. Mott Foundation. In December 2012 the group submitted to the regional legislative assembly proposals for amendments to the draft law on support of socially oriented NGOs in the Perm region, and in January 2013 its leader took part in a roundtable organized by the Perm Legislative Assembly, which discussed this draft and recommended introducing a set of amendments in line with recommendations by participants. On April 22, 2013 the prosecutor's office issued a notice of violations to the group (as noted in section II) instructing it to register as a "foreign agent" NGO. On May 6, 2013 the group replied to the notice challenging it and emphasizing that the group's staffers are members of several advisory bodies for the state authorities, including the working group of the federal government's commission on coordinating the "Open Government," the regional governor's council on entrepreneurship, and the collegium of the regional territorial development ministry. On May 16, 2013 the group's governing bodies ruled not to implement the prosecutor's orders, as GRANI's activities are aimed not at changing state policy but at facilitating its implementation as regards the rights and freedoms enshrined in Russia's constitution. Once informed of the group's decision, the prosecutor's office concluded that the group was in persistent violation of the law on "foreign agents" and referred the case to court. Administrative court hearings started on July 5, 2013 and were postponed until July 17. On July 17, 2013 the court quashed the case. On July 25, 2013 the prosecutor's office appealed to overturn the court ruling, but on August 14, 2013 the appeals court upheld it. On September 18, 2013 the Perm regional court dismissed the prosecutor's appeal.

PermCivic Chamber (Perm)

According to the protocol from the Perm regional prosecutor's office dated June 28, 2013 the April 2013 inspection of the group's activities found violations of the law on "foreign agents." The group's work is mostly financed from foreign sources. For example, in 2011 it received a grant from a foreign donor for the project "Perm United Service for Support of Non-Profit Groups and Organizations." The group is also a partner in the project "Protection of the Right to Information in the Perm Region" implemented by the Perm Regional Human Rights Center and financed by the UN Democracy Fund. The prosecutor's office stated that an analysis of grant agreements, reports on project implementation, and other information on the group's activity showed that foreign organizations fund the group's participation in political activity in the Russian Federation. The prosecutor's office also said the center's involvement in "political activity" is also established by the fact that its members shape public opinion on state policies by publishing material that is available to a wide audience on the Internet. The prosecutor's office cited as an example the fact that in February 2013 a member of the Perm Civic Chamber, Igor Averkiev, published news of his withdrawal from the Political Council of the Perm region's governor on the Internet and it contained criticism of this body's activity. Previously, on April 25, 2013 the prosecutor's office issued a notice of violations to the group (as noted below in Section II) instructing it to register as a "foreign agent" NGO. After the group publicly declared that it will not implement the prosecutor's orders, the prosecutor's office concluded that the group was in persistent violation of the law on "foreign agents" and referred the case to court. At a hearing held on July 17, 2013 the court quashed the case. On July 25, 2013 the prosecutor's office appealed to overturn the court ruling, but on September 5 the appeals court upheld the ruling. On October 14, 2013 the Perm regional court dismissed the prosecutor's appeal.

Perm Regional Human Rights Center (Perm)

According to the protocol from the Perm regional prosecutor's office dated July 2, 2013 the inspection of the group's activities in April 2013 revealed violations of the law on "foreign agents." The group's activity is mostly financed from foreign sources: from 2010 to 2012 it received 5.6 million rubles (approximately $175,000) from international and foreign organizations for various projects. In January 2013 the group received a donation from the UN Democracy Fund for the project "Protection of the Right to Information in the Perm Region," aimed at improving transparency of state and municipal authorities. The prosecutor's office stated that an analysis of grant agreements, reports on projects implementation, and other information on the group's activity shows that foreign organizations fund the group's participation in political activity in the Russian Federation. The prosecutor's office said the center's involvement in "political activity" is also established by the fact that its members shape public opinion on state policies by publishing material that is available to a wide audience on the Internet. Examples of the latter cited by the prosecutor's office werePerm at a Crossroads: The Little Man in the Stream of Reform, a book published by the center in March 2013, and articles, "Perm under the reformers' bombardment" and "Komi-Permyaks - look from the abyss." Previously, on April 25, 2013 the prosecutor's office issued a notice of violations to the group (as noted below in Section II) instructing it to register as a "foreign agent" NGO. On May 27, 2013 the center's governing bodies ruled not to implement the prosecutor's orders, as the group's activities under the UN-funded project cannot be considered political. Once informed of the group's decision, the prosecutor's office concluded that the group was in persistent violation of the law on "foreign agents" and referred the case to court. On July 18, 2013 a court quashed the case against the center. In late July the prosecutor's office appealed to overturn the court ruling, but on August 23, 2013 the appeals court upheld the ruling. On October 14, 2013 the Perm regional court dismissed the prosecutor's appeal.

IV. Official Notices of Violations - 18 NGOs

The groups below received official orders to "eliminate violations," i.e. direct orders by the prosecutor's office to register as "foreign agents" within one month of their respective dates of notice.

Center for Civic Analysis and Independent Research / GRANI (Perm)

A case was referred to court for alleged persistent refusal by the organization to comply with the "foreign agents" law (for details, please see section III). The group challenged the notice and lodged a judicial appeal on June 7. Court hearings started on July 1 but were postponed until July 11. On July 11 the court further postponed the hearings until there has been a ruling in the administrative case against the group. On November 11 the court quashed the notice. The prosecutor filed a protest against district court's verdict. Court hearings started on February 10, but were postponed until March 12.

Baikal Environmental Wave (Irkutsk)

According to a notice issued by the prosecutor's office dated April 23, 2013 the group's statue provides for "active advocacy on environmental issues with state and municipal authorities," which constitutes "political activity" within the meaning of the law. The group filed a written objection to the notice with the regional level prosecutor's office, but on July 18, 2013 the prosecutor's office upheld it. The group then lodged a judicial appeal. Court hearings started on September 9, 2013 but were postponed until October 16. On October 16, 2013 the Kirovsky district court of Irkutsk dismissed the group's appeal. The group appealed the ruling, but on January 23, 2014 the Irkutsk regional court upheld it.

Center for Social Policy and Gender Studies (Saratov)

According to the notice dated April 24, 2013 both the group's statute provisions and its current work relate to "political activities." In April 2013 the group, which receives foreign funding, organized the event, "Review of the social policy in the post-Soviet area: ideologies, actors and cultures" and published the book, Critical Analysis of Social Policy in the Countries of Former Soviet Union, thereby aiming to influence public opinion. On June 25, 2013 the group filed a motivated written objection to the notice with the prosecutor's office.

Information and Human Rights Center (Yekaterinburg)

According to the notice dated April 26, 2013 the group receives foreign funding and participates in "political activities" through carrying out projects aimed at "overcoming totalitarian stereotypes by influencing public opinion with awareness-raising activities, facilitating the establishment of the rule of law by informing citizens about constitutional norms, ensuring the priority of individual rights in state practices and public life by remembrance of terror victims in the past and defending the rights of citizens in the present, as well as countering violent, unlawful, totalitarian ways of ruling the state by organizing public events (rallies, exhibitions, etc.)." Also, in September 2012, the group conducted a roundtable on the rights of conscripts and military servicemen, addressing a set of recommendations to the Ministry of Defense and the government and therefore trying to influence governmental policies in this area. The group challenged the prosecutor's notice of violations and lodged a judicial appeal on September 30, 2013. On November 20, 2013 a local court quashed the notice of violations. The prosecutor appealed the verdict. Court hearings in the Sverdlovsk regional court are scheduled for April 2.

Regional Public Association in Defense of Democratic Rights and Freedoms "Golos" (Moscow)

The prosecutor's office issued a "notice of violations" to the group on April 26, 2013. On May 27, 2013 the group appealed the notice to the courts. The court hearings were scheduled for June 25, 2013 but were postponed twice. On July 10 the court upheld the notice of violations. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice opened an administrative case against the group before the expiration of a one-month period given by the prosecutor to "eliminate the violations" listed in the notice (for details, please see Section III). The group appealed the court ruling, but on December 6, 2013 the Moscow city court rejected the appeal.

Human Rights Center "Memorial" (Moscow)

According to the notice dated April 29, 2013 some of group's objectives in its statute relate to "political activity" and the group also carries out programs and projects that monitor politically motivated administrative detentions and criminal prosecutions. The organization challenged the legality of their inspection by the Moscow prosecutor's office in March 2013 and lodged a judicial appeal. On May 24, 2013 the Zamoskvoretsky District Court of Moscow rejected the complaint by "Memorial" as ungrounded. The group challenged the prosecutor's notice of violations and lodged a judicial appeal on May 28, 2013. Court hearings were scheduled for June 28 but have been postponed three times until November 18, 2013. On November 18 the court satisfied the group's motion to postpone the hearings until either the Constitutional Court delivers its judgment on the compliance of the law on "foreign agents" with Russia's Constitution or the joint NGO application to the European Court of Human Rights is communicated to the Russian authorities. Hearings are preliminarily scheduled to resume on April 15, 2014.

"Women of Don" (Novocherkassk)

According to the notice dated April 29, 2013 after the law on "foreign agents" entered into force, the group received foreign funding and "carried out activities aimed at shaping public opinion and influencing decision-making by the authorities through conducting events with public participation, publishing propaganda information materials online, as well as [doing so] in the course of private meetings with imprisoned individuals." Thus, the group published on its website policy proposals on police reform and conclusions on the ineffectiveness of current state policy in this field. In April 2013 the group organized an inter-regional seminar attended by the media, the participants of which declared a detention of an NGO leader in Krasnodar unlawful, opened for signing a petition in his support, and addressed an appeal to the Russian President, as well as "expressed negative attitudes regarding the activities of state authorities and highlighted the necessity to solve problems [independently] without appealing to competent governmental agencies." Also, in April 2013 the prosecutor's office received a letter from an imprisoned individual who stated that while meeting with him in her capacity as a Public Oversight Commission member, the group's leader "called him for active actions in support of the group's activities on changing the legislation regulating the penitentiary system."

On July 20, 2013 the group's governing bodies ruled not to implement the prosecutor's order to register as a "foreign agent," as it was not involved in any "political activities."

Center for Support of Democratic Youth Initiatives / Youth "Memorial" (Perm)

According to the notice dated April 29, the group's statute objectives include defending the political rights of youth. The organization aspires to influence public opinion with regard to governmental policies and receives funding from the US-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) for a project aimed at "developing democratic activism among Russian youth." The group also implements a project on human rights education funded by the Germany-based "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" Foundation (EVZ) and published a collection of articles expressing political views of the project's participants. According to the prosecutor's office, both donor institutions "define their objective as influencing political processes worldwide." Moreover, in 2012 the group conducted activities aimed at monitoring rights violations in the military and providing direct assistance to conscripts and military servicemen who suffered abuse. The authorities also flag that the very fact that the organization is well known for promoting the alternative civil service proves that its work relates to "political activities." The group challenged the prosecutor's notice of violations and lodged a judicial appeal. On November 27 the court quashed the notice of violations. The prosecutor filed a protest against district court's verdict. Court hearings started on February 12, but were postponed until March 12.

Interregional Human Rights Association "AGORA" (Kazan)

According to the notice dated April 30, 2013 the group implements a project on Internet freedom funded by Internews, supporting "activities of lawyers capable of influencing policy and law enforcement practice" and aiming at "adoption of regulations on administrative procedures for implementing the law on Internet by the government and the State Agency for Supervision of Communications [Roskomnadzor]." The notice also flags that the group is accredited by the Ministry of Justice as an independent expert entity authorized to conduct anticorruption evaluation of legal acts and their drafts.

"Panorama" Center (Moscow)

According to the notice dated May 6, 2013 the group implements a foreign-funded research project on political processes, which involves holding roundtables and discussions and publishing information regarding the drawbacks of current legislation and the evolvement of public protests in Russia. On June 6, 2013 the group's governing bodies ruled not to implement the prosecutor's order to register as a "foreign agent," as it was not involved in any "political activities," and filed a written objection to the notice with the prosecutor's office.

"Lawyers for Constitutional Rights and Freedoms" / JURIX (Moscow)

According to the notice dated May 7, 2013 the group's statute provides for carrying out various activities "in the field of law and public policy." The group receives foreign funding and its staff members participated in the advocacy campaign against the adoption of a ban on "homosexual propaganda" in St. Petersburg, including by providing legal expertise on the draft law and taking part in the public hearings at the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg as well as televised debates on the issue. The group filed a written objection to the notice with the prosecutor's office, who rejected the appeal on August 7, 2013. The group then lodged a judicial appeal to challenge the notice. Court hearings started on November 18, 2013 but the court satisfied the group's motion to postpone the hearings until either the Constitutional Court delivers its judgment on the compliance of the law on "foreign agents" with Russia's Constitution or the joint NGO application to the European Court on Human Rights is communicated to the Russian authorities. Hearings are preliminarily scheduled to resume on April 15, 2014.

"Public Verdict" Foundation (Moscow)

According to the notice dated May 8, 2013 the group carries out political activities, which are mostly financed from foreign sources. In the view of the prosecutor's office, the group's activity "is aimed at interfering with governmental policy in the field of law enforcement by proposing legislative amendments, shaping public opinion on the necessity of changing law enforcement policy currently exercised by the authorities, and gaining public support for its actions aimed at exhorting greater influence on the authorities." The prosecutors consider the following actions as examples of the group's "political activities": "involving society in discussing the reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, monitoring citizens' rights observance while conducting public events, providing legal assistance to the individuals accused under the ‘Bolotnaya case,' preparing and coordinating the work on drafting the Alternative NGO Report to the UN Committee against Torture [on Russia's compliance with the UN Convention against Torture]," offering "recommendations to participants of public protests regarding [appropriate] behavior at the rallies," and "organizing and supporting campaigns of petitions to state authorities." The group challenged the prosecutor's notice of violations and lodged a judicial appeal on June 13, 2013. Court hearings were scheduled for June 28, 2013 but have been postponed three times until November 18, 2013. On November 18 the court satisfied the group's motion to postpone the hearings until either the Constitutional Court delivers its judgment on the compliance of the law on "foreign agents" with Russia's Constitution or the joint NGO application to the European Court on Human Rights is communicated to the Russian authorities. Hearings are preliminarily scheduled to resume on April 15, 2014.

Independent Council of Legal Expertise / NEPS (Moscow)

According to the notice dated May 6, 2013 the group's work is related to "political activities" and it should register as a "foreign agent" NGO.

Moscow School of Political Studies (Moscow)

According to a notice dated May 8, 2013 the group's work is related to "political activities" and must register as a "foreign agent" NGO.

Yaroslavl Regional Hunters' and Fishermen Society (Yaroslavl)

According to the notice dated April 16, 2013 some of the provisions in the group's statute relate to "political activity" and it should register as a "foreign agent" NGO.

Perm Civic Chamber (Perm)

A case was referred to court for alleged persistent refusal by the organization to comply with the "foreign agents" law (for details, please see Section III). The group challenged the notice of violations and lodged a judicial appeal on June 7, 2013. On July 16 the court chose to postpone the hearings on the challenge until the ruling on the administrative case against the group is delivered. On November 6, 2013 the court quashed the notice of violations. The prosecutors appealedthe district court's verdict, but on December 25, 2013 the Perm regional court rejected the appeal.

Perm Regional Human Rights Center (Perm)

Case referred to court for alleged persistent refusal by the organization to comply with the "foreign agents" law (for details, please see Section III). The group challenged the notice of violations and lodged a judicial appeal on June 7. On July 18 the court chose to postpone the hearings on the challenge until the ruling on the administrative case against the group is delivered. On November 21 the court quashed the notice of violations. The prosecutor appealed the district court's verdict. Court hearings started on February 5, but were postponed until March 17.

Foundation for Social and Legal Assistance "Sphere" (Saint Petersburg)

The Sphere Foundation supports the activities of Russia's LGBT Network, a leading Russian group of activists fighting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. On June 6, 2013 there were court hearings on the challenge by the Sphere Foundation to the legality of the prosecutor's office inspection of the NGO in the spring of this year. During the hearings representatives of the prosecutor's office claimed that on April 20, 2013 they issued a notice of violations to the group requiring it to register as a "foreign agent." The Sphere Foundation refuted these claims and stated that they neither received any such notice, nor were they aware of it. Their complaint regarding the inspection was rejected by the court.

"Freedom of Information" Foundation (St. Petersburg)

On January 27, 2014 the Saint-Petersburg central district prosecutor notified the group that it  carried out "political activities," which included a description of his meeting with the US president in the personal blog of the group's director,  an analytical review on the new Russian legislation on personal data published by the group, and the group's participation in the Open Government summit in London. As the group also receives foreign funding, according to the prosecutor's office, it  needs to register as a "foreign agent" NGO.

V. Warnings Not to Violate the Law - 54 NGOs

The groups below were warned of a need to register as "foreign agents" if they plan to carry out "political activities" or receive foreign funding in the future.

Kabardino-Balkarian Human Rights Center - regional branch of the "For Human Rights" All-Russian movement (Nalchik)

According to the prosecutor's warning dated November 5, 2013, the group received funding from the US-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 2012-2013 to organize public debates, observe trials, monitor the activities of extremist groups and disseminate information about Stalinist repression. These activities, as well as the membership of the group's leader in the regional Public Chamber, quasi official group authorized to carry out expert analysis of regional legislation, were identified by the prosecutor's office as grounds for possible involvement in "political activity." At the same time, the prosecutor admitted that the actual inspection uncovered no facts of the group's direct involvement in "political activity." On December 18, 2013, as a result of the group's judicial appeal, the Nalchik city court dismissed the warning. On January 22, 2014, the prosecutor appealed the court verdict. On February 26 the Supreme Court of Kabardino-Balkarian Republic upheld it verdict and the court ruling came into force. 

KostromaSoldiers' Mothers Committee (Kostroma)

According to the warning dated April 16, 2013 the group's representatives were involved in election observing in December 2011 and March 2012.

Democratic Center (Voronezh)

According to the warning dated April 16, 2013 the group was involved in election observing in December 2011. The group challenged the warning and lodged a judicial appeal, but on July 19 the local court upheld the warning. The group appealed the ruling. On December 3, 2013 the Voronezh regional court upheld the ruling. The district court's ruling thus entered into force. The group then challenged the law on "foreign agents" in the Constitutional Court  alleging a violation of freedom of association guaranteed by Russia's Constitution.

Volgograd Center for NGO Support (Volgograd)

According to the warning dated April 22, 2013 the group implements a public diplomacy project titled, "Information Center on International Security" funded by the NATO information bureau, which is aimed, inter alia, at providing "information support to activities of regional branches of political parties, representatives of the authorities, civil society institutions on topical issues of international relations and international security."

Interregional Committee against Torture (Nizhniy Novgorod)

According to the warning dated April 22, 2013 the group took part in "public events, which may be regarded as political activity" before November 2012.

"Man and Law" (Yoshkar-Ola)

According to the warning dated April 24, 2013 the group's statute stipulates that its staff "may take part in public events, meetings and rallies," and that the organization can work to "facilitate accountability for state officials that perpetrate blatant violations of human rights and freedoms in the Russian Federation."

Instituteof Press Development - Siberia (Novosibirsk)

According to the warning dated April 24, 2013 one of the objectives in the group's statute is "assistance to civil society development in Russia and strengthening democratic principles in the life of Russian society" and several types of public activities that the group may carry out to achieve this objective relate to "political activity." The group challenged the warning and lodged a judicial appeal, but on June 10 a local court upheld the warning. The group appealed the ruling, but on September 12, 2013 lost the appeal. Following this decision, the group filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court challenging the law on "foreign agents" as violating freedom of association guaranteed by Russia's Constitution.

"Assistance to Cystic Fibrosis Patients" (Istra, Moscow Region)

According to the warning dated April 24, 2013 one of the objectives in the group's statute is "defending the rights and legal interests of cystic fibrosis patients in the state's authority," and the group "may come up with initiatives on various issues of public importance, submit proposals to state authorities, and defend rights and legal interests of its members as well as other citizens in the face of federal and municipal authorities." The prosecutor's office revoked the warning on April 30, 2013.

Amur Social-Ecologic Union (Blagoveshchensk)

According to the warning dated April 24, 2013 one of the objectives in the group's statute is "assistance to the state authorities, citizens and their associations in the activities aimed at preserving and restoring natural and cultural heritage and sanitation of the environment," and several types of public activities that the group may carry out to achieve this objective relate to "political activity." The group sent a list of objections to the prosecutor's office on May 6, 2013 to challenge the warning. However, on May 27, 2013 the prosecutor's office upheld the warning.

Amur Environmental Club "Ulukitkan" (Blagoveshchensk)

According to the warning dated April 24, 2013 the group's statute includes a provision on "the right to participate in decision making by state authorities," and in 2011 the organization carried out a foreign-funded contest for journalists to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. The group challenged the warning and lodged a judicial appeal, but on June 4, 2013 the local court upheld the warning. The group appealed the ruling, but on August 12, 2013 the appeals court upheld it. Following this decision, the Federal Ombudsman filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court in the interests of the group challenging the law on "foreign agents" as violating freedom of association guaranteed by the Russian constitution.

"Phoenix" Foundation (Vladivostok)

According to the warning dated April 24, 2013 the group's statute provides for its possible participation in "political activity." The group challenged the warning on April 29, and the prosecutor's office revoked it on June 4, 2013.

Ryazan "Memorial" Society (Ryazan)

According to the warning dated April 24, 2013 some of the objectives in the group's statute and types of activities relate to "political activity." The group challenged the warning and lodged a judicial appeal, but on October 16 a district court upheld the warning. On December 25, 2013 Ryazan regional court overturned the district court's ruling and quashed the prosecutor's warning.

Movement "For Fair Elections" (Kurgan)

According to the warning dated April 24, 2013 the group received foreign funding before the "foreign agents" law came into effect and may carry out "political activities." The group challenged the warning and lodged a judicial appeal. On May 27 a local court quashed the warning. The prosecutor's office appealed the court ruling, but on August 28, 2013 the appeals court upheld it.

"Golos - Siberia" Foundation (Novosibirsk)

According to the warning dated April 24, 2013 some of the group's statute provisions relate to "political activity," and in 2012 it received funding from the Foundation for Support of Democracy "Golos," which is a recognized recipient of foreign funding. In July the group appealed the warning to a court of law. On October 29, 2013 a local court quashed the warning. The prosecutors appealed the district court's verdict, but on January 23, 2014 the Novosibirsk regional court rejected the appeal.

 "Golos - Urals" Foundation (Chelyabinsk)

According to the warning dated April 25, 2013 some of the objectives in the group's statute relate to "political activity."

"Golos - Volga region" Foundation (Samara)

According to the warning dated April 26, 2013 which the group's director only received on July 2, some of the objectives listed in the group's statute relate to "political activity." Also, in 2012 the group received funding from the Foundation for Support of Democracy "Golos," which the authorities recognize as a recipient of foreign funding. The group challenged the warning and lodged a judicial appeal. Court hearings started on August 12 but were postponed until August 29, 2013. On August 29 the court dismissed the group's appeal and upheld the warning. The group appealed the ruling, but on October 29 a higher instance court upheld it. Following this decision, on November 13, 2013 the group filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court challenging the law on "foreign agents" as violating freedom of association guaranteed by the Russian constitution.

"Citizens' Watch" (St. Petersburg)

According to the warning dated April 26, 2013 some of the provisions in the group's statute relate to "political activity." Besides, the group "conducts public events, including seminars, and publishes materials in the mass media."

Center for NGO Development (St. Petersburg)

According to the warning dated April 26, 2013 the group receives foreign funding and some of the provisions in its statue relate to "political activity." The warning also stated that the group conducts "public events, including workshops, roundtables, and trainings, and publishes materials in mass media."

Urals Democratic Foundation (Chelyabinsk)

According to the warning dated April 25, 2013 the group receives foreign funding and may carry out "political activities."

Urals Human Rights Group (Chelyabinsk)

According to the warning dated April 25, 2013 the group receives foreign funding and may carry out "political activities."

Center "Transparency International - R" (Moscow)

According to the warning dated April 26, 2013 both the group's statute objectives and its actual activities prove that it participates in shaping public opinion on state policies related to law enforcement and in other fields and influences the decision making of Russian state authorities, including the legislative process. The group challenged the warning and lodged a judicial appeal on June 5, 2013. Court hearings were scheduled for July 31 but were postponed until August 9, 2013. On August 9 the court dismissed the group's appeal and upheld the warning. The group appealed the ruling, but on December 10, 2013 the Moscow city court upheld it. On January 31 2014, the group challenged the "foreign agents" law in  the Constitutional Court  alleging a violation of freedom of association guaranteed by Russia's Constitution.

Center for Independent Sociological Research (St. Petersburg)

According to a warning dated April 26, 2013 the group, in connection with the group's statutory goals, "conducts sociological research, organizes events in the field of social science, and publishes academic literature." As the organization also receives foreign funding and its work may involve "political activities," the Tsentralny District Prosecutor's Office of St. Petersburg warned the group's leadership of possible liability for noncompliance with the "foreign agents" law.

Center for Independent Social Research and Education (Irkutsk)

According to a warning dated April 26, 2013 the group receives foreign funding and some of its statutory provisions relate to "political activity."

Komi Human Rights Commission "Memorial" (Syktyvkar)

According to the warning dated April 27, 2013 some of the group's statute provisions relate to "political activity." Besides, "the group's members in 2011-2012 participated in public and political actions, including protest actions, aimed at influencing the decision-making by state authorities."

Kirov Regional Hunters' and Fishermen Society (Kirov)

According to the warning dated April 29, 2013 some of the group's statute provisions relate to "political activity."

Muraviovka Park of Sustainable Land Use (Amur Region)

According to the warning dated April 30, 2013 some of the provisions in the group's statute that defends and studies birds relate to "political activity" and it received funding from the International Crane Foundation. The group challenged the warning and lodged a judicial appeal. Court proceedings started on July 19 but were postponed until July 29, 2013. On July 29 the court upheld the warning. The group appealed the ruling, but on October 4, 2013 the appeals court upheld it. The group then challenged the "foreign agents" law in the Constitutional Court  alleging a violation of freedom of association guaranteed by Russia's Constitution. At the same time, the group appealed the previous courts rulings to the oversight court, which on February 17 overturned them as unlawful and ungrounded.

"Nature and Youth" (Murmansk)

According to the warning dated April 30, 2013 the group's statute provides for "participation in creating legislative framework at the regional level," which relates to "political activity."

Center for Democracy Development and Human Rights (Moscow)

According to the warning dated May 8, 2013 some of the provisions in the group's statute and its projects relate to "political activity" as regards both interaction with the authorities and shaping public opinion.

Journalism Advancement and Support Center (Moscow)

According to the warning dated May 8, 2013 the group received foreign funding in 2012 and has a regularly updated its Facebook page with links to publications in varied media outlets, including analytic and other materials on state policies and activities of state agencies. The prosecutor's office flags that these publications are aimed at shaping public opinion about governmental policies and therefore, the group's work may relate to "political activities."

Levada Center (Moscow)

According to the warning dated May 15, 2013 the group receives foreign funding in the form of grant and service contracts and issues two periodic publications, which are disseminated free of charge in print version and brought to public attention online. These publications contain articles on "the country's most important political processes" and in addition to quoting the results of opinion polls, also contain individual views of the authors on political issues. Moreover, the group regularly issues press statements on major political issues, organizes jointly with the International Memorial Society a series of public seminars on social and political issues related to democratization and overcoming totalitarian past, and conducts research on elections (including elections to the State Duma in December 2011).

Foundation for Assistance to Public Opinion Research (Moscow)

According to the warning dated mid-May, 2013 the group, which is a subsidiary organization to Russia's most prominent polling agency, the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research (VTsIOM), received foreign funding and published research findings relevant to political processes in the country.

Regional Public Foundation "INDEM" (Moscow)

In May, 2013 a prominent independent think-tank INDEM, which carries out research on a wide range of social, political, and economic issues, publishes research-based reports and briefing papers, and holds conferences and other public events received a warning from the prosecutor's office that their work may constitute political activity.

"International Standard" Foundation (Ufa)

According to the warning dated May 6, 2013 from 2010 to 2012 the group received funding from the European Commission and the US embassy for the projects titled, "Improving security culture of human rights NGOs" and, "Democracy lessons for local communities: Awareness-raising and practical skills for local housing committees." The organization conducted a series of workshops, published relevant print materials, and made a film on security for civic activists. In the view of the prosecutor's office, the group therefore participates in shaping public opinion on state policies. At the same time, one of the group's founders promoted one of the candidates in the 2012 local elections.

Center for Social and Educational Initiatives (Izhevsk)

According to the warning dated May 6, 2013 the group received foreign funding in 2010-2011 and, according to its statute, has the right to engage with state and municipal policy makers and to hold public rallies. These provisions, in the opinion of the prosecutors' office, "enable" the group "to carry out political activities."

Center for Interethnic Cooperation (Moscow)

According to the warning issued in May, 2013 the group receives foreign funding and conducts conferences and seminars for officials and law enforcement officers on harmonizing interethnic relations, which may influence decisions made by the authorities. The prosecutor's office instructed the group to register as a "foreign agent" in case it continues these activities

Regional Press Institute (St. Petersburg)

Following an inspection and an interrogation at the prosecutor's office in early April, 2013 the group, whose work focuses on capacity building for local media, received a vaguely worded warning dated April 26. The prosecutors indicated that the group held "public events, including workshops, and published literature in mass media" and urged the organization to register as a "foreign agent" in case they continue to receive foreign funding and engage in political activities.

MASHR (Ingushetia)

According to a warning dated April 24, 2013 some of the group's statute provisions relate to "political activity." The group appealed the warning to a court, which quashed the warning on July 9. The prosecutor's office appealed the court ruling, but on September 26, 2013 a higher instance court upheld it.

Saami's Public Association of the Murmansk Region / OOSMO

According to the warning dated April 24, 2013 the group receives foreign funding and some of the provisions in its statute relate to "political activity".

One more Saami group in Murmansk region was warned by the prosecutors' office on the same grounds.

PhoenixPLUS (Orel)

According to a warning dated May 30, 2013 the group, which carries out activities in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention, received foreign funding and its statute provides for "participation, in accordance with the Russian legislation, in elections and referendums," which is considered "political activity."

Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus (Maykop)

According to a warning dated April 29, 2013 which the group's director received only on July 20, the group's statute "in fact declares its participation in political activity." As evidence of this, the prosecutor's office cited some of the group's statutory goals: directly influencing government policies at all levels, including countering corruption among executive authorities, courts, environmental and law enforcement bodies, facilitating the improvement of legislation, and taking measures to preserve the existing standards in the sphere of environmental protection, as well as defense of citizens' rights and freedoms. In addition, the prosecutor's office said, the group could stage rallies, demonstrations, and other public events against environmental degradation and the cruel treatment of animals. The warning also noted that Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus received grants from foreign foundations and is therefore required to register as a "foreign agent."

Foundation for Freedom of Information (St. Petersburg)

A warning dated July 11, 2013 states that the group carries out "political activities" by seeking to shape public opinion. The group advocates for access to information on the work of state authorities in order to influence decision-making by government officials. The group publishes information on various Internet sources, and it launched a website which serves as a platform for submitting proposals to the National Action Plan on issues related to the openness of state governance. The group monitors access to information on the official websites of state authorities, publishes its findings and recommendations, and proposes relevant amendments to Russia's legislation. The group's staff members actively participate in Russian and international events on freedom of information. The group engages in strategic litigation on important cases relevant to access of official information. The group has also accepted foreign funding, including after the law on "foreign agents" came into effect.

Maximum (Murmansk)

According to the warning dated July 18, 2013 the group, which provides social, psychological, and legal assistance to the LGBT community, received foreign funding in 2012 and its director organized public actions to raise awareness of discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, religion, and ethnicity. As an example of such actions the prosecutor's office cited a rally held in May 2013, which aimed at "expressing and shaping opinions on the issues of hatred and homophobia in the society."

Similar warnings were also issued to 11 environmental groups listed below:

·                     For the Nature (Chelyabinsk)

·                     Green Home (Khabarovsk)

·                     Siberian Environmental Center (Novosibirsk)

·                     SPOK (Petrozavodsk)

·                     Kola Environmental Center (Murmansk)

·                     ApatityEnvironmental Center (Murmansk region)

·                     KolaCenter for Wild Nature Defense (Murmansk)

·                     Schoolof SoulEcology "Tengri" (Gorno-Altaisk)

·                     Protected Natural Areas Association of the Altay Republic (Gorno-Altaisk)

·                     Center for Environmental Awareness-raising of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) "Eyge" (Yakutsk)

·                     Youth Foundation "Renaissance of the Siberian Land" (Irkutsk)

 

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