Finally, the court of first instance was held on Golos' lawsuit against the Ministry of Justice for including ‘Golos‘ in the list of ‘foreign agents‘. Our hope was to find out more about allegations, entered in the court register, that we had received foreign funding from a "citizen of the Republic of Armenia". We also wanted to understand the scale of "funding" being alleged against us.
In court, we were discouraged by the evidence presented by the Ministry of Justice – just one sentence, in a certificate produced by the Ministry for the court, without any supporting documents:
"On 24.06.2021 the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation received information from the Federal service for financial monitoring that in April 2021 the Fund for the promotion of legal education of the population "League of voters" (INN 7706470890) had received two transfers of money in the amount of about 200 rubles from the Golos movement, which, in turn, in the same period received money from Nanukyan Norayr Lvovna, a citizen of the Republic of Armenia".
And that's it.
Our clarifying questions and attempts to understand the logic of what is written in the certificate were not followed by anything intelligible. There were no specific dates, no specific amount. Only "April" and "about 200 rubles".
How did the ‘Golos‘ movement, without having a bank account, first allegedly receive from Ms. Manukyan and then transfer 200 rubles to the "League of Voters" fund? What evidence exists to confirm this allegation?
The identity of Norayr Lvovna Manukyan also raised questions. Does she have Armenian citizenship? Does she have Russian citizenship? Why does the Ministry of Justice consider her a woman, although it is generally known that the name Norayr is a male name, meaning "new man"? We petitioned to involve Mrs. Manukyan in the case as a witness, so that we could confirm that she is a real person and clarify all these questions, but the court considered this to be unnecessary for the examination of the case.
We also tried to access the information from ‘Rosfinmonitoring‘, to which the Ministry of Justice refers. But the Ministry of Justice said that the letter from ‘Rosfinmonitoring‘ is for official use only, and therefore it can only be shown to the judge. They didn't show it to us, despite objections that this letter affects our rights – as the contested decision of the Ministry of Justice was made on the basis of this information, we are entitled to have access to it in order to defend ourselves. The letter was shown to the judge, but the Ministry of Justice filed a certificate to the case, which, according to the judge, corresponds to the content of the letter. The reason for not showing the letter to the plaintiffs and not attaching it to the case file may be that no conclusions can be made on its basis. In one of the trials for another NPO, in announcing the contents of the ‘Rosfinmonitoring‘ letter, the trial court read the following statement: "We would like to draw your attention to the fact that this information is of an intelligence nature, and in order to be used in court it is necessary to obtain confirmation of its authenticity from a credited institution." Naturally, no confirmation of the authenticity of the vague "intelligence information" was presented in our trial, either.
Despite the lack of evidence, the court refused to satisfy our claim. We're going to appeal!