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Ingush rights group loses bid to be removed from ‘foreign agent list’

8 August 2017
Magomed Mutsolgov (amnesty.org.ru)

Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky District Court has rejected an appeal by Ingush human rights group Mashr to be removed from a government list of ‘foreign agents’, Caucasian Knot reports.

Mashr was added to the list in December 2015, after the group’s offices and the house of it’s director, Magomed Mutsolgov, were searched, Caucasian Knot writes. This was justified at the time as a ‘fight against dissent’.

Other human rights groups in Ingushetia say the decision against Mashr is politically motivated, and is aimed at exerting pressure on Mutsolgov and the organisation he leads.

The group first appealed the Justice Ministry’s decision to list it as a foreign agent in March 2016. The case went through several courts but was upheld by each.

Mutsolgov told Caucasian Knot that despite the failure, the group will continue fighting the decision as they believe it is illegal.

‘We have never had foreign financing and are engaged in providing legal assistance, which is not a political, but a charitable activity’, he says.

He also says that as soon as the organisation was listed as a foreign agent, they appealed to Ingushetia’s Justice Ministry to provide documents showing the reasons for their inclusion on the list, but they were rejected.

Russia’s law on ‘foreign agents’ was signed by President Putin on 20 July 2012. The bill was approved unanimously by the Russian State Duma and was approved by the Federation Council.

According to the law, all public organisations that receive funding or other property from foreign states and participate in ‘political activity’, are obliged to inform the authorities and to accept the status of ‘foreign agent’.

Many international organisations and foreign governments have condemned the adoption of this law and recommended it be repealed, but to no avail.