GOLOS has foreign financial support and is involved in a political activity, which means in functions as a “foreign agent”, the official portal of Ministry of Justice says.
The NGO can be fined up to half a million rubles (€12,500) and its leader Liliya Shibanova can be fined 300,000 rubles (€7,500). The court case starts in Moscow today.
If the Ministry of Justice wins the case, it can demand GOLOS to resister as a foreign agent within two months. If the NGO still doesn’t register, its activity can be stopped for half a year.
In September last year The Norwegian Helsinki Committee rewarded GOLOS with Andrey Sakharov prize for democratic values information. The financial equivalent of the prize for s $10,000, Gazeta.ru reports.
The NGos “Map of frauts” became one of the most visited websites during Russian election campaigns.
According to a former secretary of GOLOS in Murmansk Vitaly Servetnik, the case is absurd. “It’s an absurd to call somebody a “foreign agent” because of the official prize, especially when it’s a Sakharov Prize, especially when “Golos” had to return the money to the Helsikni Commettee after the law was signed”, says Servetnik to the BarentsObserver.
Russian NGOs have been experiencing unexpected inspections. In 2012 the Ministry of Justice took 9,000 petitions for NGO dissolutions to court, made 45,000 notices of violations, and suspended activity of 21 NGOs.
The inspections to NGOs are still in the process, but GOLOS became the first, but probably not the last organization, forced to register as a “foreign agent”.