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Russia's Soldiers’ Mothers NGO excluded from foreign agents list

October 29, 2015, 10:57 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The organization that defends the rights of conscripts, soldiers and their families, will no more wear the shameful label
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© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

MOSCOW, October 29. /TASS/. Russia’s Justice Ministry said on Thursday it has excluded the Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg human rights organization from the register of "foreign agents."

The organization that defends the rights of conscripts, soldiers and their families, will no more wear the shameful label as it "has stopped fulfilling the functions of a foreign agent," the ministry said.

The decision formally came into effect on October 23.

Last week, the Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg received a presidential grant of 2.7 million rubles ($42,200) for its projects on increasing "personal responsibility for ensuring human rights in Russia’s army."

This was particularly done through raising people’s awareness of the law and monitoring human rights violations in the army and providing high-quality judicial, psychological and social assistance to citizens free of charge.

Under the law passed in Russia in July 2012, non-profit organizations which engage in "political activity" and receive funding from abroad are required to register as "foreign agents." The term carries a strongly negative connotation in Russia.

A spokesman for the organization, Alexander Peredruk, told TASS on Thursday that the NGO has been excluded from the list only de jure, while de facto the "mark" on it remains.

The NGO learnt about the decision only late on Wednesday and this "came as a surprise," he said.

The spokesman played down the move, saying that "the register has achieved its goal: we are branded and will de facto remain foreign agents for many people."

"In legal terms, this decision simplifies the work in many ways, there will be less paperwork and more time for useful activity," he said.

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