Russia’s Justice Ministry announced it has added an NGO run by opposition figure Aleksey Navalny to the national list of foreign agents. The NGO denies receiving any foreign funding for its activities.
In a short statement on Wednesday, the ministry said that its probe confirmed that Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) matches the criteria of an organization acting as a foreign agent and has been added to the relevant list. Russia introduced a law on foreign agents in 2012 and has since added over 70 organizations to it.
A foreign agent is an individual or organization involved in politics that also receives money from foreign entities, according to the Russian law. Foreign agents must submit regular reports on their finances and activities and undergo annual audits in order to operate in Russia.
The FBK is focused on exposing alleged corruption of Russian officials and has been running since 2011. It says it is funded only by donations from Russian individuals and organizations. Responding to the news, one of its executives said labeling the FBK a foreign agent is just an attempt to “stifle” it.
Navalny’s organization is currently being investigated over alleged money laundering. Its senior staff are suspected of illegally receiving large donations and repackaging them into a smaller amounts, ostensibly coming from small donors from all over Russia. Navalny and his people deny any wrongdoing and claim to be victims of persecution by the Russian government.
In addition to his anti-corruption investigations, Navalny is a prominent protest organizer. He was a key figure behind a wave of mass demonstrations in July and August in the run-up to the city council elections.
The protests were meant to pressure the election commission to admit candidates that Navalny and his fellow opposition activists favored, who had been barred from running due to various irregularities.
Some of the protests were conducted in violation of Russia’s law on public gatherings and resulted in mass arrests of participants. Navalny served a short jail term for his role in organizing those events.
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