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Russian Investigative Website Fined For Breaking 'Foreign Agent' Law

Roman Dobrokhotov leaves a police station in Moscow following questioning in July.
Roman Dobrokhotov leaves a police station in Moscow following questioning in July.

MOSCOW -- A court in Moscow has fined investigative website The Insider for failing to mark its materials as being produced by a "foreign agent," a mandatory requirement for those added to the state's controversial registry.

The Taganka district court on December 14 ordered The Insider to pay 1 million rubles ($13,600) for the lack of labels on its materials. The group was added to the "foreign agent" registry in July.

The Insider's chief editor, Roman Dobrokhotov, has said the website will not mark its materials with the "foreign agent" disclaimer because The Insider is registered in Latvia and is not obliged to follow Russian law.

Russia's "foreign agent" legislation 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," to submit to audits, and to label their content with an intrusive disclaimer or face fines.

Just days after The Insider was labeled a "foreign agent," Moscow police searched Dobrokhotov's apartment and that of his parents as well. His passport was confiscated, but he still managed to leave the country.

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) in September said an arrest warrant had been issued for Dobrokhotov.

Dobrokhotov is accused of illegally crossing the border into Ukraine in August, "bypassing the established checkpoints," the FSB said.

The statement added that Dobrokhotov faced criminal prosecution and up to two years in prison if convicted of the offenses.

With reporting by Interfax and Reuters

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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