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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: March 2, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
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Novaya Gazeta reports that the Ostankino District Court in Moscow has vacated the judgement of a justice of the peace who  had declared the Institute for Human Rights guilty of violating the procedure for NGOs requiring registration as a "foreign agent" if an organization engages in unspecified "political activity" and receives funds from abroad.

The Institute's lawyer Damir Gaynutdinov said their case had been sent for new review but the statute of limitations has expired and the court is obliged to close the case.

The Institute for Human Rights is a long-standing non-profit organization devoted to research and policy proposals on human rights issues. Its president is Sergei Kovalev, a biologist and close friend of Dr. Andrei Sakharov, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Kovalev, a former political prisoner, chairman of Memorial Society and former member of parliament frequently writes essays critical of the Kremlin, notably about Russian aggression in Chechnya, Ukraine and Syria but has not joined in organized opposition activity.

With this decision, Russian authorities may have drawn the line where they will prosecute "foreign agents," but it will remain puzzling to many as numerous other groups -- including the Sakharov Center, where Kovalev has also been active -- have hewed to human rights rather than "political" agendas, even if they are critical of current policy, and yet have had to pay the 300,000 ruble fine.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick