Russia: ‘Foreign agent’ blacklisting for the Anti-Corruption Foundation is latest attack on freedom of association
Reacting to the news that Russia’s Justice Ministry has added the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) founded by opposition activist Aleksei Navalny to its list of “foreign agents”, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International Russia’s Director, said:
“The Anti-Corruption Foundation joints the long list of NGO victims of the repressive ‘foreign agents law’. While this act of vengeance against an organization founded by a prominent Kremlin critic is nothing new, we note it targets one of the largest civil society networks in the country.
“In the absence of an effective political opposition, the Foundation managed to grow, to crowdfund its activities, and to reach out to mass audiences with its stories of top-level corruption in Russia. It has become the source of, and the magnet for, civic and political activism. Now it is paying the price.
While this act of vengeance against an organization founded by a prominent Kremlin critic is nothing new, we note it targets one of the largest civil society networks in the country.
“Today’s decision is a further warning to opponents of the Russian Government and to any independent political initiatives in Russia, that the authorities will not tolerate anything that can effectively galvanize critical public opinion and protest.
“We once again call on the Russian authorities to repeal the “foreign agents law” and stop its ongoing assault on the right to freedom of association in Russia and its crusade against civil society activists and government critics.”
After being blacklisted as a “foreign agent” the Anti-Corruption Foundation is obliged to report its activities, face strict financial scrutiny and label all its public materials as “prepared by a foreign agent”.
On 3 August, the authorities opened a 75 million ruble ($1.2 million) “money laundering” case against the Anti-Corruption Foundation and froze the organization’s and its individual staff banking accounts. As a part of the investigation, more than 200 searches at 43 of 45 headquarters regionally operated by Aleksei Navalny’s supporters and their homes were conducted on 12 September alone.
On 28 August, Anti-Corruption Foundation Director Ivan Zhdanov was charged with “failure to enforce the court decision” to delete a video investigation into property allegedly illicitly acquired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.