Reduced fines for breaches of ‘foreign agent’ law
Russia’s Ministry of Justice reduces the level of fines for breaches of the “foreign agents” law
The Justice Ministry has drafted a Bill to reduce the minimum amount of administrative fines for breaches of the above law to a limit of 50,000 and 100,000 roubles for officials and legal officers respectively (at present, fines of up to 100,000 and 300,000 roubles can be imposed).
By announcing these changes, the Justice Ministry is giving effect to the ruling made by Russia’s Constitutional Court in April that the “foreign agents’ legislation does not run counter to the country’s legal framework, but, at the same time, the Court recognised the need to change the tariff levels for breaches of the law. The Court therefore undertook to make the necessary changes to the administrative code of practice.
According to the newspaper “Vedomosti”, the Human Rights Commissioner, Ella Pamfilova, believes this is a good sign, and hopes that NGOs will be subject to the minimum fine from the courts. “We, for our part, are developing a set of proposals designed to make the lives of NGOs easier”, said an Ombudsman spokesman. However, Natalia Taubina, Director of the “Public Verdict” charity, takes a different view, believing that such a step will not facilitate the participation from Third Sector organisations given the Bill is only concerned with the lower threshold and that NGOs will be hit with the highest financial penalties.
Taubina believes that the main problem is not the size of the fine, but more to do with the concept of the “foreign agents” law itself. “However much the authorities try and dress this up, the fact remains that this piece of legislation is still totally unconstitutional”, Taubina added.
According to ITAR-TASS, the Justice Ministry’s Bill has the support of the Russian Parliament. Dimitry Vyatkin, Deputy Chairman of the Duma’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs and official representative from the lower House of Parliament in the Constitutional Court, told the news agency that it was necessary that the Bill be approved. He went on to say that Parliament may well discuss this issue during its autumn session, but stressed that the level of fines would be subject to further scrutiny.
Author: Georgy Ivanushkin