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Nashi Office Closed 'Over Foreign Funding'

A Voronezh court on Tuesday accused a regional office of the pro-Kremlin Nashi youth group of breaking the law by, among other things, failing to report receiving foreign money.

Nashi, known for staging harassment campaigns against Kremlin opponents, has long accused opposition groups of hiding foreign funding.

Voronezh's Leninsky District Court ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed by the local branch of the Justice Ministry demanding the closure of the Nashi office for repeatedly violating the federal law on public associations, Interfax reported.

The ministry is responsible for registering organizations.

The ministry accused the Nashi office of failing to inform it about "money … received from foreign organizations and foreign individuals … and its use," according to a report on its web site that provides examples of concrete cases. The report does not specify where the funding came from.

Nashi will not appeal the ruling, and its local office closed Tuesday, Interfax said. An attempt to contact local Nashi officials was unsuccessful.

Nashi said in a statement that it was unaware of any violations and shrugged off the court ruling, saying it has reorganized from an interregional to a national organization and therefore "regional offices … legally cannot exist."

Curiously, Nashi leader Nikita Borovikov said by telephone that he had not heard about the closure.

He refused to explain what the reorganization meant and when it had occurred.

Some local politicians expressed surprise — and relief — about the court ruling.

"I am very surprised, but this is good for us," Yury Shershnev, a senior local Just Russia official, said by phone.

He accused Nashi activists of breaking into the party's office twice before the State Duma elections on Dec. 4.

"They did the right thing. United Russia will also be closed," said Sergei Rudakov, a Communist deputy with the Voronezh regional legislature. "Nashi broke into our party's office and accused us of selling Russia to China."

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