Arkhangelsk LGBT group fined for not branding as “Foreign Agent”
Tatiana Vinnichenko is head of Rakurs and the Chairperson of the Russian LGBT Network.(Photo: Anja Kristine Salo)
“Whatever the pressure, Rakurs will continue to support LGBT community, to provide legal and psychological help. And we are going to challenge this wrongful decision in the court,” says Tatiana Vinnichenko, head of the organization.
Nonprofit organization Rakurs has been fined 300.000 rubles (€4.180) after refusing to accept the foreign agent label.
“The foreign agent label itself discredits any work for LGBT community, “implies” that LGBT rights defense is harmful for the society and that our organization itself is dangerous,” says Tatiana Vinnichenko, head of both Rakurs in Arkhangelsk and chairperson of the Russian LGBT Network.
Rakurs was fined in a court ruling last week for carrying on their activities without registration as a foreign agent. The gay rights group was declared “foreign agent” in November last year and was listed in the Ministry of Justice’s lists of foreign agents on December 15th.
The members of Rakurs, however, have refused to brand their organization with the “foreign agent” stamp.
Refusing to carry the label will be fined, according to the controversial law from 2012. The law was not actively enforced until President Vladimir Putin instructed law-enforcement officials to do so during a speech to FSB members in 2013.
The law has been criticized both in Russia and internationally as representing a violation of human rights and being designed to counter opposition groups.
“Whatever the pressure, Rakurs will continue to support LGBT community, to provide legal and psychological help. And we are going to challenge this wrongful decision in the court, says Tatiana Vinnichenko in a comment posted on the LGBT network’s portal.
Speaking to BarentsObserver a year ago, members of the Rakurs said Russia’s on-going witch-hunt against homosexuals is getting worse and worse every day. The situation has gotten so bad in recent time that activists have begun comparing it to the period under Brezhnev, when homosexuality was a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. At the time, the country’s communist leadership claimed that homosexuality was only practiced among fascists and aristocrats. Today’s leadership and the Orthodox Church claim homosexuality is only promoted by “liberals in the west.”
Members of Rakurs in Arkhangelsk. (Photo: Anja Kristine Salo)
Arkhangelsk was the first region in Russia to ratify the law banning all activities aimed at promoting homosexuality in public areas. The regional law later served as a basis for the federal law enacted by the State Duma and signed by President Vladimir Putin in 2013. Since then the stigma and prejudice of homosexuality in Russia has gained nationwide support.
2013 was the same year as law enforcements started to register controversial NGO’s as “foreign agents.”
Last week, Russia’s Ministry of Justice ruled “foreign agent” verdict on the Murmansk based organization Maximum, another non-profit organization providing legal support to victims of homophobia. As BarentsObserver reported, also Maximum plans for appealing the verdict.
The Ministry of Justice’s list of “foreign agent” NGOs stood at 38 entries as of last week, the Huffington Post reports.
The “foreign agent” law was adopted in order to prevent foreign powers from secretively using cash to influence domestic politics in Russia.