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Kostroma NGO Suspends Activities Over Fine

A non-governmental organization based in Kostroma has suspended its activities and has taken steps toward shutting down completely, because it is unable to pay a fine levied against it for having violated the law on "foreign agents," the NGO's chairman said Tuesday.

The law requires all non-governmental organizations that receive foreign funding and engage in "political activity" to register as "foreign agents" with the Justice Ministry.

Regional marshals notified the Kostroma Civic Initiatives Support Center NGO about their intention to forcefully recover the money and gave the organization until Nov. 8 to provide information about its finances.

The organization has begun collecting documents confirming that it currently has no property or funding.

In May, the organization was fined 300,000 rubles ($9,362) and its director Alexander Zamaryanov was fined 100,000 rubles for holding a roundtable on the future of Russia-U.S. relations with a political counselor from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, prosecutors in Kostroma said.

"We managed to collect 100,000 rubles for Zamaryanov's fine but not enough to pay the organization's fine. The organization has no money or property," said Nikolai Sorokin, the NGO's chairman. "We have therefore suspended all meaningful activity and have begun liquidating the organization."

The organization has filed a complaint with the Constitution Court about the law on "foreign agents," which was passed in July 2012. It was the second NGO to be identified as a foreign agent under the law, independent election monitor Golos being the first.

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