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MOSCOW, April 26 (Itar-Tass) – Public Chamber members said the magistrate court's ruling to recognize Golos, an association for protecting voters' rights, as "foreign agent" is justified.
"The Golos association has received money from U.S. funds during the whole period of its existence, including from the U.S. agency for international development," director general of the Institute for foreign policy studies and initiatives, Public Chamber member Veronika Krasheninnikova said.
The agency in question only funded the projects related to politics. "Therefore, the Golos association falls under the scope of the law on NGOs – "foreign agents," no matter what they say," she said.
"If the Golos association says it does not receive foreign funds, let them prove it, because the Rosfinmonitoring Federal Fiscal Monitoring Service says it receives up to 70 percent of funds for its activities in cash. You can hardly believe that Golos does not receive foreign funds," Krasheninnikova noted.
Her colleague Maxim Grigoryev told Itar-Tass that Golos has not scaled down its activity since the law on NGOs came into force. "We see this activity by their work in regions, and this work is paid for. You can hardly imagine that the funding from foreign sources has been stopped; or they're using the leftovers from the money received from foreign sources before the law became effective."
In Grigoryev's opinion, Golos has been one of organizations that received large-scale funding from abroad. "It was obvious by the large missions of observers they sent and their promotional campaign on the Internet," he explained.
The Public Chamber member drew attention to the fact that the court ruling does not prevent the Golos association to continue its activity, but only after it registers as "a foreign agent."
"Nobody's banned their activity," Grigoryev said.
On Thursday, a Moscow magistrate court fined the Golos association of non-governmental organizations 300,000 roubles, saying its activities bore the hallmarks of "foreign agent."
In looking into the association's activity, the court exposed a violation of the law, which commits the non-profit organizations engaging in politics and receiving funding from foreign states to registration as "foreign agents."
The Golos association refuses to be registered as "foreign agent" on principle, saying its activity is public, not political. It also denies funding from abroad.
Golos lawyers called the court's ruling predictable, but said it was not based on actual circumstances on the case. "We'll appeal it as illegal," a Golos representative told reporters.
Aside from that, the Golos association intends to appeal to the Constitutional Court. "This law /on non-government organizations - eds Itar-Tass/ cannot be improved or rectified by amendments, because the very notion - "foreign agents" - cannot be applied to public organizations," Golos director, member of the presidential council for developing civil society and human rights Lilia Shibanova said in an interview to Tass.
Earlier, the court turned down Golos' petition to ask the Constitutional Court to clarify the term "political activity" in the law on non-governmental organizations.
The law does not contradict the Constitution, nor does it require clarification, the magistrate court said.