At the end of September, the Ministry of Justice included 20 coordinators of the "Golos" movement in the register of media outlets performing the functions of a foreign agent. The list included:
People designated as "foreign media agents" must mark each of their messages – including any statement in social networks, even comments – with this text:
This message (material) was created and/or disseminated by a foreign mass media outlet performing the functions of a foreign agent and (or) a Russian legal entity performing the functions of a foreign agent.
In addition, they are required to submit reports on all their personal finances, including family expenses – they must submit a report to the Ministry of Justice every three months detailing where they got the money from and what they spent it on. In addition, once every six months they are required to submit an activity report.
The Ministry of Justice did not provide any explanation for this decision. In order to find out more about this decision and challenge the inclusion in the register, Golos activists began filing lawsuits in court. As the case was being considered, details began to emerge.
According to the law, the registry can include those who disseminate information to an unlimited number of people (via the Internet) and receive funding or benefits from foreigners. Arkady Lyubarev, in his blog on the "Golos" website, goes on to explain why the law allows for an extremely broad interpretation and how it is routinely used to settle scores and put pressure on civil society.
What do we see in practice? Artem Vazhenkov was listed as a "foreign agent" for selling Aeroflot miles to a Nigerian citizen. Ekaterina Kiltau received 200 rubles from a certain Otabek (as it turned out, from Tajikistan), who repairs apartments. Vladimir Zhilkin received 171 rubles from Lotfi Hazm, a Moroccan student, for a ride. Arkady Lyubarev, a member of the Golos Council, received 20 thousand rubles for three articles in the Latvian-language Russian publication Meduza, which, incidentally, had not yet been designated as a foreign media agent itself. Pensioner Lyudmila Kuzmina became a foreign agent because in 2019 she received 15 thousand rubles for renting her apartment – the tenant of which was a French citizen, Julien Raphael.
Since mid-January, the courts have begun considering the merits of the administrative lawsuits filed by Golos activists.
On January 17, the Zamoskvoretsky Court in Moscow refused to remove the status of a foreign media agent from Alexander Lyutov, Artem Vazhenkov and Mikhail Tikhonov, on January 18 — from Inna Karezina and Vladimir Zhilkin, on January 19 — from Alexander Grezev, Katerina Kiltau and Arkady Lyubarev.
New court hearing:
January 20, Samara
January 21, Orel
January 31, Ivanovo
February 3, Perm
February 7, Irkutsk
You can come to the meeting too and support our colleagues!