Continued persecution of civil society under the "foreign agents" law

Association

Novosibirsk NGO fined for not registering as "foreign agent"

On 1st August 2017, the Tak-Tak-Tak Human Rights Fund from Novosibirsk suffered a defeat in its case at the court of appeals over its inclusion in the registry of "foreign agents". When the group refused to voluntarily register as a "foreign agent", authorities fined them 200,000 rubles (US$3,475). According to Radio Free Europe, Viktor Yukechev, the director of the Fund, has also been 50,000 rubles. 

The Fund is a social protection network operating since 2009. Over the last eight years, it has become one of the regional centres for investigative journalism in Russia. 

On 1st September 2017, the Fund filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against the Russian court of appeals' ruling. 

In a separate incident, RIA Novosti reported that the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation rejected Levada Centre’s petition for its removal from the government's "foreign agents" list after it was initially included on the list in September 2016. The Centre had appealed a number of provisions of the federal law on NGOs, including regulations pertaining to foreign funding received by organisations. 

As of 25th October 2017, 89 non-governmental organisations have been listed as "foreign agents" with the Ministry of Justice of Russian Federation. 

Peaceful Assembly

On 7th October 2017, protests were organised throughout the country by supporters of the opposition leader, Alexey Navalny. Not all protests were authorised. The most significant protests took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg. According to the online news site Meduza, police used force in St. Petersburg and detained 38 demonstrators who were taken to police stations, given verbal warnings and then released. The police recorded their names as violators of traffic rules.

Why is it difficult to protest in Samara city?

In the city of Samara, the authorities refused to authorise a commemoration of victims of political repression, citing concerns over having too many participants near public places, such as a park, church and college. The action was planned for 29th October 2017, in connection with the day of remembrance of the victims of political repression in Russia - 30th October.

Expression

The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation warned Radio Free Europe and other media organisations about their possible inclusion in the "foreign agents" list. According to Zona Media, the media outlets have only received warnings thus far, with the authorities claiming that their media activities could be qualified as de facto foreign agents. Krim Realii reporting on Crimea post-annexation was also warned.

According to the Current Time TV channel, on the day before the warnings were issued Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that if the U.S. continues to pressure Russia Today TV channel, the Russian Foreign Ministry will take measures against media associated with the U.S. and working in Russia. Radio Free Europe has been reporting on Russia and the wider Eurasia region since 1950 and has received funding from the U.S. government.