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Russian Election Monitor Suspended For 'Foreign Agent' Law Violation

Grigory Melkonyants, deputy executive director of the Golos Association, says the group will continue under a different organization.
Russia's Justice Ministry has suspended the activities of independent election monitor Golos because of the group's failure to register as a "foreign agent."

The ministry announced on its website late on June 25 the group's operations have been suspended for six months.

Golos and its leader Lidia Shibanova were ordered to pay fines of 300,000 rubles ($9,300) and 100,000 rubles, respectively, in April under a new law requiring all nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that receive foreign funding and engage in political activity to register as foreign agents.

The group insists it stopped receiving foreign funds after the law went into effect in November 2012.

It says it's being targeted for uncovering widespread violations in recent elections.

"We are establishing a new organization that will be a public association, which, in accordance with the federal law on public associations, has the right to work without judicial registration," Grigory Melkonyants, Golos's deputy executive director, told RFE/RL's Russian Service in Moscow.

"As a central association, [Golos] has already suspended its activities, but the main work is now being done by our staff members, activists, and volunteers not only in Moscow but also in the regions that are getting ready for the September 8 elections," Melkonyants added.

MAP/CHART: Follow Russia's Crackdown On NGOs

New-York based Human Rights Watch issued a statement on June 26 criticizing Russia's authorities for using the controversial legislation to "curtail a broad range of work" by NGOs.

With reporting by ITAR-TASS
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