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Golos public organization to appeal court ruling to recognize it as "foreign agent"

June 05, 2013, 14:32 UTC+3

On June 4, a magistrate at Moscow's Basmanny court fined Golos 300,000 roubles for refusing to register as "NGO-foreign agents"

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MOSCOW, June 5 (Itar-Tass) - The regional public organization Golos will challenge the court ruling to name it "a non-governmental organization - foreign agent," head of the Golos association Lilia Shibanova told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

On June 4, a magistrate at Moscow's Basmanny court fined Golos 300,000 roubles for refusing to register as "NGO-foreign agents."

"We'll appeal the decision; I'm confident all these rulings on Golos will be annulled," Shibanova said.

In her opinion, the Justice Ministry misinterprets the law on "NGOs-foreign agents." A Justice Ministry representatives believes it is unnecessary to prove a connection between the funds received from foreign sources and the projects for which they were given, whereas we believe that such a connection must be proven, or that a given foreign grant is spent for policy change," the Golos head underlined.

"Yesterday, the Justice Ministry said at the court that the draft election code /developed by Golos/ was a political activity, but it was finished three years ago, well before the law became effective. The funds in the amount of 240,000 euros from the European Commission were intended for the project to develop local self-rule and involving citizens in self-rule. Incidentally, local self-rule issues to not belong to state policy," she explained.

Shibanova said Golos had decided to collect money in Russia for election monitoring projects, and that it would continue to receive foreign grants for other projects.

The grant givers demand that all the materials, such as printed ones, indicate that they were produced with their money.

On April 25, a Moscow magistrate court fined the Golos association of non-commercial organizations 300,000 roubles having found signs of "foreign agent's" activity in its operation. The law commits such organizations to register as "foreign agent." Its director Shibanova was fined 100,000 roubles.

"We refuse to be registered as "foreign agent" on principle, viewing our activity as public, not political," Shibanova said, adding that Golos would appeal to the Constitutional Court.

The Justice Ministry reminded that since 2008, the association has been implementing the project to increase the transparency of the Russian electoral process on the basis of discussing and promoting a standardized Election Code.

"The objective of the project is to draw the public's attention to the necessity to amend the election legislation by adopting an entirely new legislative act - the Election Code. To promote the Code, the association shapes the public opinion by providing coverage of the draft Election Code. The public actions and events to promote the Election Code aim at influencing the decisions made by government bodies and forming the public opinion," the Justice Ministry said.

Under the law adopted in the summer of 2012, a non-governmental organization performing the functions of "foreign agent" is a Russian NGO which receives funding or property from foreign states, international or foreign organizations, foreign citizens, persons without citizenship or their authorized representatives and/or Russian legal entities that receive funds or other property from the designated persons. Also, such an organization participates in politics in Russia, including in the interests of foreign sources.

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