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Russian Independent Legal News Outlet Closes Over ‘Foreign Agent’ Status

Katya Gorbunova, editor-in-chief of Advokatskaya Ulitsa. Advocate Street / VK

Russian legal news website Advokatskaya Ulitsa announced Monday it will close at the end of this month over its “foreign agent” status.

“After Ultisa was added to the [foreign agent] registry, I as a publisher was left with few options for organizing the project’s further work,” the website's editor-in-chief Katerina Gorbunova said.

“I’m not satisfied with any of them,” Gorbunova wrote on the messaging app Telegram, blaming the “foreign agent” status as the key reason for the independent outlet’s closure.

Russia’s Justice Ministry branded Advokatskaya Ulitsa a “foreign agent” in April, saying the outlet’s news coverage “formed a negative image of Russia, its current legislation and law enforcement practice.”

Advokatskaya Ulitsa, a project funded by lawyers, has reported on issues surrounding the legal profession since its founding in 2019.

The “foreign agent” designation, which carries negative Soviet-era connotations, burdens organizations with strict labeling and auditing requirements.

Hundreds of journalists, activists and civil society figures have been branded foreign agents in recent years amid the Kremlin's far-reaching crackdown on independent media and the opposition. 

Putin defended Russia’s “foreign agent” law last week as “more liberal” than similar legislation in the United States.

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