The Russian newly established foreign agent law is requiring for all the non-governmental organisations in Russia to register as foreign agents if they receive funding from foreign donors.
On 25 April, GOLOS NGO was the first organisation which was charged under the foreign agent law. GOLOS was ordered to pay $9,500 because it didn’t declare itself a foreign agent, since the organisation received funding from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. On 28 April, the EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton issued a statement declaring her concern about the fine imposed to Golos.
The statement said, “the High Representative is very concerned by the recent judgments imposing fines on the civil society organization “GOLOS” and its director Ms Lilia Shibanova, as well as the obligation on GOLOS to register as a “Foreign Agent”. The work of GOLOS for free and fair elections contributes to the implementation of international commitments which Russia has agreed to, notably within the Council of Europe and the OSCE.”
On Sunday, GOLOS also issued a statement saying that will turn to the Russian Constitutional Court and in the European Court of Human Rights in order to defend the organisations’ innocence. According to the statement , “Golos will do all it can in the interests of a huge number of Russian nongovernmental organizations to get the law on foreign agents declared as going against the constitution and Russia's international obligations.”
The Russian law was also criticised by Ashton who stressed that the ruling for GOLOS, “confirms widespread worries both inside and outside Russia regarding the implementation of the Foreign Agent law.”
The statement by Ahton concluded, “the EU has repeatedly expressed its concerns about growing pressure on civil society, the recent wave of restrictive legislation on NGOs and the widespread checks on their activities. The EU will continue to monitor developments closely.”