Russian NGOs Challenge Foreign Agent Law

MOSCOW, February 6 (RIA Novosti) – Eleven Russian NGOs on Wednesday lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) about the “foreign agents” law, the Memorial rights group said.

The petition was signed by the Moscow Helsinki Group, Memorial, the For Human Rights movement, the Golos (Voice) association, the Public Verdict foundation, the Nizhny Novgorod Committee against Torture, the St. Petersburg Civil Oversight rights organization, and the Civil Assistance charity.

Russia’s controversial new law, obligating non-governmental organizations financed from abroad and involved in political activity to register as “foreign agents,” came into force last November. The first organization to register under the new law last December was the “Shchit i Mech” (Shield and Sword) human rights group from the Chuvashia Republic.

The new legislation also requires NGOs to publish a biannual report on their activities and carry out an annual financial audit.

Failure to comply with the law could result in fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($17,000).

Kremlin officials have repeatedly claimed that Washington is using NGOs in Russia as a cover to bring about political change. President Vladimir Putin once famously called Russian NGOs involved in politics “jackals.”


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