Civil Assistance NGO defies 'foreign agent' status, ready to go to ECHR

The Civil Assistance human rights organization will appeal the Russian Justice Ministry's decision to assign it 'foreign agent' status.

The Civil Assistance human rights organization will appeal the Russian Justice Ministry's decision to assign it 'foreign agent' status.

"Naturally, we will lodge an appeal against this decision with the district court," the organization's lawyer Kirill Koroteyev has said.

"We will also request a suspension of the Justice Ministrys ruling because the filing of a complaint itself is unable to suspend it. If our courts support the Prosecutor's Office and the Justice Ministry, we will go to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)," Koroteyev said in a statement on behalf of Civil Assistance, seen by Interfax on Monday.

A Russian Justice Ministry spokesman told Interfax earlier that following prosecutors' inspection, Civil Assistance had been included in Russia's list of 'foreign agent' non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which receive funding from abroad and are involved in political activities.

Civil Assistance is one of Russia's leading NGOs helping refugees.

The Prosecutor's Office began inspecting Civil Assistance at the end of January. Human rights activists said then that they had provided prosecutors with 700 documents. On March 20, the Prosecutor's Office demanded that this NGO be registered in accordance with the 'foreign agent' law.

The Russian Justice Ministry has already assigned 'foreign agent' status to over 50 NGOs, including the Memorial center, the Sakharov Museum and Public Center in Moscow and the For Human Rights movement.

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