Moscow Court Refuses To Remove Domestic Violence NGO From 'Foreign Agent' Registry

By RFE/RL's Russian Service

MOSCOW -- A court in Moscow has refused to remove Nasiliyu.net, a leading organization that addresses domestic violence and LGBT rights, from the registry of "foreign agents."

Lawyer Pavel Chikov of the Agora legal defense organization said on March 11 that the Zamoskvoretsky district court rejected Nasiliyu.net's request to annul a Justice Ministry decision to add the group to its controversial list of organizations fulfilling the functions of a "foreign agent."

The ministry justified its move, made in December, by saying that the NGO had received foreign funding and was engaged in political activity. The NGO has denied it is politically active.

Chikov said earlier this month that the government's complaint against Nasilyu.net said the group's activity in "publicizing the problem of domestic violence," "creating conditions so that victims know where to turn for help," and "participating in promoting and conducting campaigns aimed at adopting a law against family and domestic violence" must be considered "political activity" under the "foreign-agent" laws.

The government also deemed the NGO's public calls for government agencies "to take measures to protect victims of domestic violence" during the coronavirus pandemic to be "political activity."

The NGO's leader, Anna Rivina, said on March 8 that her organization had been ordered to vacate their Moscow offices by the end of March for unclear reasons.

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.

Human Rights Watch has described the foreign-agent legislation as "restrictive" and intended "to demonize independent groups."

Later modifications to the foreign-agent law have targeted foreign-funded media, including RFE/RL's Russian Service, six other RFE/RL Russian-language news services, and Current Time.

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