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22.11.2012

NGOs predictably targeted as Russia’s "foreign agent" law takes effect

   

Amendments to the Law on non-commercial organizations are the road to fascism (from an earlier protest)

Reuters reports that two Russian human rights groups had their offices spray-panted with the words "foreign agent" on Wednesday.  This was the day that the new “law on foreign agents” came into force. The law, which has been condemned by human rights groups and the international community, forces NGOs receiving foreign grants to register themselves as “foreign agents” with all the stigma that this entails.

The doors to both the NGO For Human Rights and the Memorial Association were daubed with the words foreign agent and a heart with USA next to it.

"We will not follow this law, it is unlawful, " For Human Rights director Lev Ponomaryov told Reuters. He said his organization had notified the police about the graffiti.

Ponomaryov said he did not know who had sprayed the door, but that the law was a scare tactic to try to restrict the operations of organizations like his.

"We have to show some sort of civil disobedience. They are threatening us and if they apply some sort of repressions to us, we will try to make our case in courts, " he said.

Groups violating the law may be fined or suspended for up to six months without a trial. Rights activists say the law violates Russia’s constitution and the right to associate and assemble freely.

Several leading rights groups have decided to challenge the law at the European Court of Human Rights.

They say the NGO law is one in a series of repressive bills rushed through the Russian parliament since President Vladimir Putin’s third term began in May.

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