Russia Files Complaint Against NGO Tackling Domestic Violence For Violating 'Foreign Agent' Law.

MOSCOW -- Russia's Justice Ministry has filed a complaint against one of the country’s leading nongovernmental organizations addressing domestic violence, which was added to Moscow’s controversial list of entities designated as "foreign agents" last December.
Lawyer Pavel Chikov of the Agora legal-defense organization made the announcement on Telegram on March 2. According to Chikov, the government has deemed that the activity of Nasiliyu.net in "publicizing the problem of domestic violence," "creating conditions so that victims know where to turn for help," and "participating in promoting and conducting campaigns aimed at adopting a law against family and domestic violence" must be considered "political activity" under the country’s "foreign agent" laws. The government also deemed the NGO's public calls for government agencies "to take measures to protect victims of domestic violence" during the coronavirus pandemic to be "political activity."

The complaint also notes that Nasiliyu.net’s website includes contact information to the Anna domestic-violence crisis center, which has also been listed as a "foreign agent" organization.
Chikov said the government also listed as "political activity" the NGO’s participation in a 2019 sanctioned demonstration against gender discrimination and domestic violence held to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, although the Justice Department's complaint notes the event "took place without any disturbance to public order." The ministry is asking a court to fine Nasiliyu.net from 300,000 to 500,000 rubles ($4,000 to $6,800). In addition, the ministry is seeking a fine of up to 300,000 rubles against the NGO's director, Anna Rivina. Nasiliyu.net was founded in 2015 and was registered as an NGO in 2018. In December 2020, it was listed as a "foreign agent" organization, a designation that it is appealing in court. When Nasiliyu.net was included on the list, Rivina wrote on Facebook that "95 percent" of the reason why the organization was targeted was "because of our draft law on domestic violence and 5 percent because of our support for LGBT rights.”
Russia's so-called foreign agent legislation was adopted in 2012 and has been modified repeatedly. It requires nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign assistance and that the government deems to be engaged in political activity to be registered, to identify themselves as “foreign agents,” and to submit to audits. Later modifications of the law targeted foreign-funded media, including RFE/RL’s Russian Service, six other RFE/RL Russian-language news services, and Current Time. Human Rights Watch has described the foreign agent legislation as "restrictive" and intended "to demonize independent groups."

With reporting by Kommersant

Radio Free Europe

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