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10.04.2013

Purge on NGOs in Russia gathers pace

   

A mass protest on 12 February 2012 called for honest elections, and in part prompted by election monitoring by Golos, now under fire frrom the Russian authorities

The Russian Justice Ministry has initiated legal proceedings against the election watchdog Golos for not having registered as a „foreign agent”.  A court hearing is due on Wednesday which could impose an absolutely prohibitive fine:  600 thousand rubles against Golos, and 300 thhousand against its Director Lilia Shibanova.

At the same time, RIA Novosti cites the Justice Ministry’s report as saying that 9 thousand applications have been sent to the courts to have NGOs dissolved;

21 organizations have been suspended;

over 45 thousand warnings have been issued;

5, 61 thousand cases involving administrative proceedings have been initiated (i.e. like the case against Golos.)

Lilia Shibanova asserts that Golos has not received foreign funding since the law on “foreign agents” came into force.

It is hardly an accident that the first application of this draconian law is against an NGO which published information about election rigging in the last parliamentary elections which prompted mass protest in Moscow and other cities. The BBC points out that Golos used to be partly funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), but that body ended its work in Russia last year on an order from the Russian authorities.

The move to open a legal case against Golos comes in the wake of nationwide NGO inspections that have been taking place in Russia since March. Most observers linked them to the new law. Many NGO activists have complained about unexpected and time-consuming raids.

Recently targeted NGOs include the Moscow offices of Human Rights Watch, corruption watchdog Transparency International and the Kazan-based advocacy group Agora. Agora provides legal support to many political activists.

From reports at RIA Novosti and the BBC

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