Russian human rights activists boycott Law on Foreign Agents

Leading Russian NGOs intend to ignore the legislative amendments which require the registration as "agents of foreign influence" of non-governmental organizations with Western backing.

The law will enter into force on Nov. 20, Tuesday.

"I do not know a single human rights organization, which has appealed for being registered as a "foreign agent," said Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of Russia's oldest human rights organization Moscow Helsinki Group. "We are not "foreign agents". We cannot call ourselves so. The law demands that we must do that, but we will not supply false information."

"A court may rule that we are a "foreign agent", that the Moscow Helsinki Group receives money from abroad, that it is engaged in politics and influences pubic opinion. We are not going to waive our influence on public opinion, because this is what we have been doing since the moment of our establishment 36 years ago," Alexeyeva said.

"We may stop accepting foreign funding and try to find sponsors in the home country. But we will do that only if we pass through the entire procedure and a court binds us to do so. Then, we will reject foreign grants but we will file cassation appeals and will apply to the Strasbourg Court," she said.

Golos Association head Lilia Shibanova also told Interfax on Monday that her organization was not going to be registered as a "foreign agent" but was prepared to stand up for its position in court. "Our opinion has not changed," she said.

"If demands are made to include Memorial in the list of "foreign agents", we will resist these demands, primarily in court. We are a human rights organization and we will do everything to protect the right with law," the board of the Memorial historical, educational and human rights society said earlier.

Meanwhile, United Russia called sabotage the refusal of certain NGOs to abide by the Law on Foreign Agents and warned them about sanctions.

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