MOSCOW, June 26 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Justice Ministry has suspended the activity of independent election monitor Golos for failing to register as a “foreign agent,” the ministry said Wednesday.
The ministry issued a suspension order on Tuesday, halting the NGO’s operations until December 25.
Legislation that came into force in November obliges all non-governmental organizations in Russia to register as “foreign agents” if they are involved in any kind of political activities and receive funding from foreign sources.
Golos has been prohibited from holding public events and will have its bank accounts frozen, except for contract settlements, compensation for losses, and the payment of fines, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
The sanctions will not hinder the NGO’s regular activities, Golos deputy executive director Grigory Melkonyants told RIA Novosti.
“I learned about that decision last week. The Justice Ministry’s actions were expected,” he said, adding that a new election monitoring association would be created while Golos would formally dissolve itself.
Golos, which has been active in publicizing violations in federal and regional elections in recent years, was fined 300,000 rubles ($9,000) in April for failing to register as a “foreign agent.” It was the first NGO to be penalized under the new law.