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Russian Court Fines Rights Group Memorial Amid Crackdown On Civil Society


The Memorial Human Rights Center and International Memorial are among dozens of news outlets and rights organizations to have been labeled foreign agents. (file photo)

A court in Moscow has ordered the Memorial Human Rights Center -- one of the post-Soviet world's oldest and most prestigious human rights organizations -- to pay a 500,000 ruble ($6,800) fine for allegedly violating Russia’s controversial "foreign agent" legislation.

The December 15 ruling comes a day after Russia's Supreme Court resumed a hearing into a request by federal prosecutors to shut down Memorial International, the umbrella organization for the group.


The moves are seen as part of a crackdown on civil society and critics of the government that has sparked widespread condemnation at home and abroad.

The Memorial Human Rights Center and International Memorial are among dozens of news outlets and rights organizations to have been labeled foreign agents.

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.


Moscow’s Tver district court imposed the fine on the Memorial Human Rights Center because the OVD-Info human rights group posted on its website material related to fundraising for Memorial's activities that did not contain a "foreign agent" label.

OVD-Info co-founder Daniil Beilinson said the court rejected Memorial's argument that it cannot control what’s posted on another organization’s website.

Memorial's representatives also insist that the "foreign agent" label was added to all the materials related to the group on OVD-Info's website at the court’s request in August.

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