MOSCOW, May 8 (RIA Novosti) - St. Petersburg prosecutors have notified an international LGBT film festival, Side by Side, that they are violating Russia's law on “foreign agents,” the event’s organizers said on Wednesday.
Russia passed a law last November requiring all NGOs engaged in political activity, and receiving finance from abroad, to register as a "foreign agent." Critics say the term has overtones of spying and treason to many Russians, an allegation rejected by the law's author, United Russia lawmaker Alexander Sidyakin.
“On 6th May, 2013, the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, received a ruling from the local prosecutor accusing the organization of violating Article 19.7 of the administrative code relating to the conduct of non-commercial organizations and their status as ‘foreign agents’,” reads an English-language statement posted on the festival’s website.
It says the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival offices were visited by inspectors from various Russian institutions, including the Ministry of Justice, tax service and police in recent weeks. The inspections were carried out as part of nationwide checks into various NGOs.
After the checks, the prosecutors decided that the organization had violated the law on two occasions: by publishing a brochure “The Worldwide LGBT Movement: Local Practices to Global Politics” and by taking part in a social awareness campaign against the recently adopted bill banning “gay propaganda” among minors.
Festival organizer Gulya Sultanova said the prosecutors’ notification was compiled with numerous irregularities.
“Clearly, the document was put together quickly and carelessly and there are glaring errors in regards to dates mentioned - this is a very important moment. They are focusing on content and citing activities that were made prior to 21 November, 2012 when the law concerning ‘foreign agents’ actually came into force,” the statement quotes the organizer as saying.
A magistrates’ court is to hear the case in late May.