MOSCOW, July 6 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s leading election monitor, known for accusing the Kremlin of vote rigging and suspended over its alleged “foreign agent” status, found a way to continue its operations, the group’s representative said.
Nongovernmental organization (NGO) Golos, would transform into a new legal entity with the same function as before, its deputy head Grigory Melkonyants told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
Golos was formally re-established as a non-profit foundation to monitor the elections on Friday, Russian media said, though the necessary paperwork would only be completed next week.
The group, founded in 2000, said earlier it would disband over the pressure it is facing.
The Justice Ministry suspended Golos' operations for six months last week. The ministry said that Golos, which was awarded a monetary prize from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, failed to comply with a recent law that requires NGOs receiving foreign funding and involved in vaguely defined “political activity” to register as “foreign agents.”
Golos said the temporary ban was retribution for its activity during the parliamentary and presidential elections of 2011-2012, when its monitors reported about widespread violations benefitting the Kremlin – which later backed the bill on “foreign agents.” US and European diplomats, as well as Amnesty International, have criticized the pressure on Golos.
Golos is the first victim of the “foreign agents” law, but several other NGOs also reported being forced through court to register as “foreign agents” (the term itself derived from Soviet propaganda) following a wave of nationwide checks of NGOs last spring.