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Diabetics Aid Group Labeled 'Foreign Agent' In Russia Says It Will Shut Down

SROO has provided practical and informational assistance to more than 80,000 diabetics in Russia and their families. (illustrative photo)

A group providing aid to diabetics in the Russian city of Saratov says it is no longer able to conduct its operations after being labeled a “foreign agent” and will shut down.

Larisa Saigina of the Saratov Regional Organization for Diabetics (SROO) on October 29 said it will likely take six months for the organization to wind down its operations.

It was not immediately clear what roadblocks the group was facing to prevent it from continuing operations.

Charges against it were filed under a controversial 2012 law that requires NGOs receiving foreign funding and engaging in political activities to register as "foreign agents" and to regularly proclaim their status.

Civil-society advocates say the law is aimed at bolstering Kremlin control over Russian society

The case against SROO began in August 2017 when a local medical student who was an activist with the youth wing of the ruling United Russia party complained to prosecutors that SROO received funding from foreign pharmaceutical companies.

Prosecutors commissioned local historian Ivan Konovalov to evaluate the organization, and his report concluded that SROO "gives information to foreign partners about so-called sore spots in the region, particularly in the area of health care, that could be used to inflame protest tendencies in society."

In May, a court in Saratov fined Saigina and former SROO President Yekaterina Rogatkina 300,000 rubles ($4,600) for operating without registration as a foreign agent.

SROO was founded more than three decades ago and has provided practical and informational assistance to more than 80,000 diabetics and their families, according to its website.

Saigina said the court's October 29 ruling will not be appealed.

Based on reporting by Kommersant and Novaya Gazeta