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Russian Diabetics' Rights Group Labeled 'Foreign Agent'

Yekaterina Rogatkina, the former president of the Saratov Regional Organization for Diabetics

A district court in the Russian city of Saratov has ruled that a local nongovernmental organization providing assistance to diabetics is a "foreign agent" and has imposed a fine of 300,000 rubles ($4,800).

The president of the Saratov Regional Organization for Diabetics (SROO), Larisa Saigina, and former SROO President Yekaterina Rogatkina were present when the court issued its ruling on May 28, ordering the organization to pay the fine within 60 days.

Saigina and Rogatkina told journalists they will appeal the ruling.

The charges 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 began in August 2017 when a local medical student who is 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."

SROO was founded more than three decades ago and has provided practical and informational assistance to more than 80,00 diabetics and their families.

With reporting by FreeNews-Volga and Current Time TV
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