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The association Golos, which trains observers at the elections, turned out to be the first Russian organization on the verge of shutdown under the new law on non-governmental organizations. On Tuesday, the Russian Justice Ministry opened an administrative case over the reluctance to register as ‘foreign agents’ against the association Golos. Now the organization is facing a fine of up to 500,000 roubles and liquidation, as the leadership of the organization already stated that they will refuse from putting on the register of the Justice Ministry.
Administrative court proceedings were instituted against the Golos leadership for violation of the law on non-governmental organizations, under which any organization, which is engaged in political activities and which receives the foreign funding, is to be registered as a foreign agent, the press service of the Justice Ministry told the Kommersant daily. The supervising agencies consider the Andrei Sakharov Prize of 50,000 euros as foreign funding, which the Norwegian Helsinki Committee conferred on the organization “for the propaganda of democratic values” in September 2012. “Along with this fact the association is involved in political activities in Russia,” the Justice Ministry stated. According to the Russian state authorities, the association has been developing the Election Code since 2008.
Actually Golos became the first organization, against which the sanctions were applied under the new law on non-governmental organizations, the newspaper noted. Golos is facing right two major fines. As a legal entity the organization will have to pay from 300,000 to 500,000 roubles. If after the payment of the fine the organization refuses to register as a foreign agent, it will be liquidated.
This will be so with the high degree of probability. The organization does not intend to register as a foreign agent, Golos director Lilia Shibanova told the newspaper. In her words, the organization spent a long time ago the grant, which was transferred by the US fund USAID before the enactment of the law on non-governmental organizations, and refused from the Andrei Sakharov Prize.
“We do not believe that the organization is involved in political activities, because the amendments are being drafted in the election legislation in the interests of people, but not concrete political forces,” lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliyev, who represents the interests of Golos, added. The lawyer also recalled that the Justice Ministry adhered to this position until recently.
“Golos is to blame to the state authorities most of all, because, according to the organization, a third of State Duma deputies from United Russia allegedly occupy their seats illegally due to the votes, which the election riggers allegedly added to them at the State Duma elections,” political expert Dmitry Oreshkin explained.
Over the current situation member of the Moscow Helsinki Group Vyacheslav Bakhmin told the RBC daily that he tried to predict that the number of organizations, which will be willing “to register as agents,” will depend soon from what disadvantages to the image the trial against Golos will bring to the Russian state authorities.