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July 30, 2013

Russia: “Foreign Agents” Law Hits Hundreds of NGOs

Starting in early March 2013 the Russian government launched a nationwide campaign of inspections of nongovernmental organizations, unprecedented in its scale and scope. The inspections were highly extensive, disruptive, invasive, and often intimidating. To date, hundreds of organizations in different regions of Russia have been subject to such inspections; most have yet to be informed of the inspection findings.

Starting in early March 2013 the Russian government launched a nationwide campaign of inspections of nongovernmental organizations, unprecedented in its scale and scope. The inspections were highly extensive, disruptive, invasive, and often intimidating. To date, hundreds of organizations in different regions of Russia have been subject to such inspections; most have yet to be informed of the inspection findings. However, it is clear that the main objective of these inspections is to identify organizations the government deems “foreign agents” and force advocacy groups to either assume this false, misleading, and demonizing label or suspend their work. Human Rights Watch is monitoring the situation closely and, as part of that effort, pulls together and brings to public attention information regarding civil society groups victimized in this manner.

Updated July 26, 2013 http://www.hrw.org/

I. Administrative Court Cases — 9 NGOs

If a court of law finds them 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 Defence of Voters’ Rights“Golos”(Moscow)

According to the protocol from the Ministry of Justice dated April 9, 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. The head of Golos was also personally fined 100,000 rubles (approximately $3,300). Golos appealed the court ruling on May 8. On June 14 the appeals court upheld the ruling of the Presnenskiy Court. On June 25 the Ministry of Justice ordered that the group be suspended for 6 months. On July 15 the group lodged a judicial appeal against the decision. On July 15 the group appealed this decision to a court.

Kostroma Center for Support of Public Initiatives (Kostroma)

According to the protocol from the Kostroma regional prosecutor’s office dated April 15, 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 and court hearings are scheduled for July 29. The group appealed the ruling, and court hearings are scheduled for July 29.

Anti-DiscriminationCenter “Memorial”(St. Petersburg)

According to the protocol from the Admiralteyskiy District prosecutor’s office of St. Petersburg dated April 30, 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 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 and July 16 higher courts dismissed the prosecutor's appeal.

“Coming Out”(St. Petersburg)

According to the protocol from the Central District prosecutor’s office of St. Petersburg dated April 30, 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, were postponed twice until June 19. 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 the court also fined the group's director 300,000 rubles (approximately $10,000) for violating the law. The group appealed the court ruling. On July 25 the appeals court vacated the ruling and returned it to the court of first instance for re-examination.

“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 entitled, “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 a St. Petersburg court ruled the group had violated the law and fined it 500,000 rubles (approximately $16,500). Administrative court hearings in a separate case against the group’s director are pending. The group appealed the court ruling, but on July 26 the appeals court upheld it.

Regional Public Association in Defence of Democratic Rights and Freedoms “Golos” (Moscow)

According to the protocol from the Ministry of Justice dated May 13, 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 the Basmanny Court in Moscow ruled the group had violated the law and fined it 300,000 rubles (approximately $10,000). The ruling entered into force on June 15.

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

According to the protocol from the Perm regional prosecutor’s office dated June 6, 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 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 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 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 and were postponed until July 17. On July 17 the court quashed the case.

Perm Civic Chamber (Perm)

According to the protocol from the Perm regional prosecutor’s office dated June 28, 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 materialthatis available to a wide audience on the Internet. The prosecutor's office cited as anexample 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 governoron the Internet and it contained criticism of this body’s activity. Previously, on April 25, 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 the court quashed the case.

Perm Regional Human Rights Center (Perm)

According to the protocol from the Perm regional prosecutor’s office dated July 2, 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 establishedby the fact that its members shape public opinion on state policies by publishing materialthat is available to a wide audience on the Internet. Examples of the latter cited by the prosecutor’s office were Perm 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, onApril 25 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 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 a court quashed the case against the Center.

II.Official Notices of Violations — 17 NGOs

The groups below received official orders to “eliminate violations,” i.e. to register as “foreign agents” within one month of their respective dates of notice.

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

Case referred to court for alleged persistent refusal by the organization to comply with the “foreign agents” law (for details, please see section I). 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.

Baikal Environmental Wave(Irkutsk)

According to the notice dated April 23, 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 has filed a written objection tot he notices with the prosecutor's office.

Center for Social Policy and Gender Studies (Saratov)

According to the notice dated April 24, 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 the Social Policy in the Countries of Former Soviet Union, thereby aiming to influence public opinion.

Information and Human Rights Center(Yekaterinburg)

According to the notice dated April 26, 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.

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. On May 27 the group appealed the notice to the courts. The court hearings were scheduled for June 25 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 I).

Human Rights Center “Memorial”(Moscow)

According to the notice dated April 29, 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 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. Court hearings were scheduled for June 28 but have been postponed twice until September 13.

“Women of Don” (Novocherkassk)

According to the notice dated April 29, 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.”

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.”

Interregional Human Rights Association “AGORA”(Kazan)

According to the notice dated April 30, the group implements a project on Internet freedom funded by the 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, 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.

“Lawyers for Constitutional Rights and Freedoms” / JURIX(Moscow)

According to the notice dated May 7, 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.

“Public Verdict” Foundation(Moscow)

According to the notice dated May 8, 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 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. Court hearings were scheduled for June 28 but have been postponed twice until September 13.

Independent Council of Legal Expertise / NEPS(Moscow)

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

MoscowSchool of Political Studies(Moscow)

According to a notice dated May 8, the group’s 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, 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)

Case referred to court for alleged persistent refusal by the organization to comply with the “foreign agents” law (for details, please see Section I). The group challenged the notice of violations and lodged a judicial appeal on June 7. 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.

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 I). 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.

III. Warnings Not to Violate the Law — 46 NGOs

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

Kostroma Soldiers’ Mothers Committee(Kostroma)

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

Democratic Center(Voronezh)

According to the warning dated April 22, the group was involved in election observing in December 2011. The group chellenged the warning and lodged a judicial appeal, but on July 19 the local court upheld the warning.

Volgograd Center for NGO Support (Volgograd)

According to the warning dated April 22, the group implements a public diplomacy project entitled, “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, 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, 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, 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.

“Assistance to Cystic Fibrosis Patients”(Istra, Moscow Region)

According to the warning dated April 24, one of the objectives in the group’s statute is “defending the rights and legal interests of cystic fibrosis patients in the state authorities,” 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.

Amur Social-Ecologic Union (Blagoveshchensk)

According to the warning dated April 24, 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 to challenge the warning. However, on May 27 the prosecutor’s office upheld the warning.

Amur Environmental Club “Ulukitkan” (Blagoveshchensk)

According to the warning dated April 24, 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 the local court upheld the warning.

“Phoenix” Foundation (Vladivostok)

According to the warning dated April 24, 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.

Ryazan“Memorial” Society (Ryazan)

According to the warning dated April 24, some of the objectives in the group’s statute and types of activities relate to “political activity.”

Movement “For Fair Elections” (Kurgan)

According to the warning dated April 24, 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.

“Golos – Siberia” Foundation(Novosibirsk)

According to the warning dated April 24, 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.

“Golos – Urals” Foundation (Chelyabinsk)

According to the warning dated April 25, 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, 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.

“Citizens’ Watch”(St. Petersburg)

According to the warning dated April 26, 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.”

Urals Democratic Foundation(Chelyabinsk)

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

Urals Human Rights Group(Chelyabinsk)

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

Center “Transparency International – R”(Moscow)

According to the warning dated April 26, 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. Court hearings were scheduled for July 31 but were postponed until August 9.

Center for Independent Sociological Research(St. Petersburg)

According to a warning dated April 26, 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 agent” law.

Center for Independent Social Research and Education (Irkutsk)

According to a warning dated April 26, 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, 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, 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, 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.

“Nature and Youth” (Murmansk)

According to the warning dated April 30, 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, 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, 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, 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, the group, which is a daughter 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.

“International Standard” Foundation (Ufa)

According to the warning dated May 6, 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.

Regional Press Institute (St. Petersburg)

Following an inspection and an interrogation at the prosecutor’s office in early April, 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.

Saami’s public association of the Murmansk region / OOSMO

According to the warning dated April 24, 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.

Phoenix PLUS(Orel)

According to a warning dated May 30, 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, 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’soffice 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 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.

Similar warnings were also issued to 10 environmental groups listed below:

For the Nature (Chelyabinsk)

Green Home (Khabarovsk)

Siberian Environmental Center (Novosibirsk)

SPOK (Petrozavodsk)

Kola Environmental Center (Murmansk)

Apatity Environmental Center (Murmansk region)

KolaCenter for Wild Nature Defense (Murmansk)

School of Soul Ecology “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)

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