Golos vote-monitoring association may be suspended if not registered as foreign agent – official

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 15, 2013) The operations of the Golos association specializing in monitoring elections in Russia may be suspended for half a year if a court recognizes it as a foreign agent but it still refuses to be registered as such, a Justice Ministry official has said.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion at the State Duma on Wednesday, Deputy Director of the Justice Ministry’s department for NGO affairs Tatyana Vakina said the Justice Ministry has “absolutely no doubts” that Golos’s activities are political, although she noted that it is for a court to make the final conclusion.

A magistrate court earlier fined Golos for refusing to be registered as a foreign agent, but this ruling has not yet taken legal effect, as the association has appealed it with a district court.

Vakina said the court did not oblige the organization to be registered as a foreign agent but may confirm that the Justice Ministry is right in concluding that it is financed from abroad and is engaged in political activities and therefore fits the foreign agent classification criteria. An organization is to be fined for refusing to comply with the law on getting registration as a foreign agent.

If a court ruling on fining Golos for not being registered as a foreign agent takes effect, the association will have to pay this fine and submit a registration application, she said.

“A fine can be paid within two months. Perhaps we will wait for two months. If an application is not submitted, the Justice Ministry may suspend the association’s activities for six months, which can also be appealed in a court,” Vakina said.

If the organization still does not make proper conclusions and continues its activities, “then ultimate options could be considered,” Vakina said.