One of Russia's largest and most authoritative polling centers has decided not to publish any data during the upcoming presidential campaign over fears of repercussions related to its label as a "foreign agent."
Russia’s Justice Ministry labelled the Levada Center a “foreign agent” in 2016 after an inspection of the pollster’s documents determined that it was receiving foreign funding and engaging in political activity.
From the start of the 2018 presidential campaign, Levada has been forced to cease publishing its data, the pollster’s director, Lev Gudkov, told the Vedomosti business daily.
Gudkov said his agency would continue to conduct surveys, but would not be allowed to publish results, as "foreign agents" are banned from taking part in elections according to the law.
"Violating the law can lead to fines or even the closure of the organization," Vedomosti cited Gudkov as saying.
In September, Levada's press secretary Karina Pipiya said that Levada may publish exit polls after the presidential elections are over, the RBC business portal reported.