Russia's Justice Ministry has added a Moscow school to the federal register of "foreign agents," a move that the school's founders decried as "baseless," and vowed to fight in court.
The Moscow School of Civic Education has become the 18th nongovernmental organization to wind up on the controversial list, which sees nonprofit organizations punished as part of a 2012 law if they receive foreign funding and engage in political activities but fail to dub themselves "foreign agents."
In a statement published on the Moscow School of Civic Education's website Tuesday, the founders said they intended to appeal the ministry's decision, saying that "civic education of Russian citizens, including historical and legal education, is the most important task standing before our country."
The school, previously called the Moscow School of Political Studies, was set up with support from the Council of Europe in 1992. Igor Mintusov, a member of the school's board of directors, said in comments to Kommersant on Wednesday that the school's administration made no secret of the fact that most of its funding comes from abroad, "but all of this information is publicly available."
According to Mintusov, the ministry's decision came after an inspection of the school, as well as earlier complaints from the ministry over the school's original name. In May, he said, the school changed the name from Moscow School of Political Studies to the Moscow School of Civic Education to appease the ministry.
The school organizes seminars and hosts roundtable discussions on issues including human rights, the development of democratic institutions and transparency, and accountability of the government, among other things.