Wednesday, April 10, 2013
In Russia Takes Legal Action against Election Monitors, the New York Times reports that Russia’s Justice Ministry has charged Golos, “Russia’s only independent election monitoring organization,” and its executive director with violating Russia’s controversial law that requires a nonprofit group to register as a “foreign agent” if it receives financing from abroad. The law is described by the Times as “among the most provocative in a passel of Kremlin-supported legislation in recent months that was aimed at tightening restrictions and limiting foreign influence on nonprofit groups.” According to the story, Golos was formed in 2000 with American support to monitor and comment on elections in Russia and other countries, and it “had a prominent role in drawing attention to fraud, including blatant ballot-stuffing and other crude measures, in the Russian parliamentary elections of December 2011.” A conviction reportedly would cost Golos fines in excess of $15,000, and its executive director a fine of approximately $10,000. An official with Golos is quoted as stating that the nonprofit has received no grants “from the moment the law on agents went into effect.”
The story presents the investigation against the backdrop of recent raids by Russian authorities on “some of the most prominent international organizations working here, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch,” as well as on “two of Germany’s most respected political foundations.” The Times notes that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany recently has publicly criticized Russia’s treatment of nonprofits.