A human rights activist in Russia is facing criminal charges for allegedly failing to comply with a controversial “foreign agents” law that critics say is part of a Kremlin crackdown on civil society.
According to Human Rights Watch, Valentina Cherevatenko was notified by authorities in Rostov-on-Don on June 27 that she was being charged with “malicious evasion” of requirements spelled out in the 2012 law.
Cherevatenko serves as chairperson of the Women of the Don Foundation for Civil Society Development.
“The case against Valentina Cherevatenko is the first time a criminal proceeding for noncompliance with the ‘foreign agents’ law has been brought against a human rights defender,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
If found guilty, Cherevatenko faces up to two years in prison.
In 2012, Russia’s parliament adopted a law that required nongovernmental organizations to register as "foreign agents" with the Ministry of Justice if they engage in “political activity” and receive foreign funding.
The Ministry of Justice has designated 133 groups as “foreign agents.”