Golos NGO pays both fines for refusal to register as foreign agent

The Golos non-governmental association has paid fines imposed by court for refusing to register as a foreign agent.

The Golos non-governmental association has paid fines imposed by court for refusing to register as a foreign agent.

"We fulfilled the court ruling categorically and paid both fines imposed," Golos Deputy Director Grigory Melkonyants told Interfax on June 27.

On April 25, the magistrate precinct of Moscow's Presnensky Court fined Golos 300,000 rubles ($9,000) and its head Lilia Shibanova 100,000 rubles ($3,000) for not complying with the law on non-governmental organizations (NGO), Melkonyants said. According to the law, NGOs receiving foreign financing have to register as foreign agents.

On June 14, the Presnensky Court upheld the ruling and dismissed the appeals of Golos executives.

Shibanova has said repeatedly that both verdicts were illegal and that Golos would not register as a foreign agent.

Golos leaders said later that the association would be liquidated, a temporary non-governmental association would be established and then a new NGO would be registered.

According to Melkonyants, the six-month operation suspension of Golos association by the Russian Justice Ministry will not affect plans of Golos activists to monitor the elections on the Single Voting Day on Sept. 8.

"Furthermore, the Golos team intends to fulfill everything planned for September 8. Opening new services and opportunities is ahead. Stay tuned," Melkonyants posted on Facebook.

All information resources of the Golos association have been transferred to people who will cover activities of new organizations, Melkonyants said.

He hopes that the establishment of two organizations would be completed soon. The first organization will be "In Support of Consumer Rights," which will work as a private association without state registration. The second one is Golos non-governmental organization (the form is being specified) working "with state registration as a legal entity," Melkonyants said.

Melkonyants said he became aware of the possible suspension of Golos on June 24.

"The Golos association has not yet received any official documents from the Justice Ministry with a decision on suspension. Sharp-toothed lawyers are waiting to study the document and to form the stance," he said.

Melkonyants said that after the decision on suspension is received, "we will attach it to the complaint with the European Court of Human Rights, which, I am sure, will help to speed up the process of considering the case on a priority basis. A petition to the Constitutional Court is being prepared."

It emerged on June 26 that Moscow department of the Justice Ministry had suspended the operations of the Golos human rights organization due to its refusal to register as a foreign agent.

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