Support The Moscow Times!

Russian Election Watchdog Golos No Longer Labeled a 'Foreign Agent'

In fighting its registration as a “foreign agent,” Golos says it has returned funding it had received from Norway's Helsinki Committee, RIA Novosti reported Tuesday.

Independent election watchdog Golos is not a "foreign agent," and should thus be struck from the government's registry, the organization announced in a statement Tuesday.

The Moscow City Court ruled on Monday that there had been no grounds to register Golos as a "foreign agent," and ordered the Justice Ministry to return 400,000 rubles ($10,800) in fines that the group and its director Liliya Shibanova had paid for their refusal to register, according to the statement.

The group is among a range of Russia's NGOs that the Justice Ministry has registered as "foreign agents" in accordance with a 2012 law that attaches the label to advocacy groups that receive funding from abroad and are engaged in loosely defined "political activity."

"The Justice Ministry now must remove Golos from its registry of foreign agents, [and] the government must return the 400,000 in fines that have been paid," the organization's deputy directory Grigory Melkonyants said in a post on his Facebook page Monday night, adding that the group may also be able to fight other restrictions that have been imposed on its activities.

But it seems that the victory has come at the price of giving up funding from overseas human rights groups.

In fighting its registration as a "foreign agent," Golos says it has returned funding it had received from Norway's Helsinki Committee, RIA Novosti reported Tuesday.

Monday's ruling said that the court sided with a petition filed by Russia's human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova, who had previously argued that the law was too vague with regard to whether NGOs that give up foreign funding would still be forced to "wear the 'foreign agent' stain for the rest of their lives," Interfax reported.

… we have a small favor to ask.

As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just 2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.


Read more