Russian HIV charity fined in ‘foreign agent’ case
A court imposes a fine on an HIV support organisation in a foreign agent case
A judge representing the Federation’s Ministry of Justice in Orel has fined Phoenix Plus, an HIV support organisation and administrator of the Parni Plus (Guys Plus) website, having found the CSO guilty of breaching Paragraph 1 of Article 19.34 of the Federation’s Administrative Violations Code for failing to include itself on the foreign agents’ register. The Ministry had put them on the list of organisations performing the actions of a foreign agent last December. Maria Kanevskaya, the lawyer acting on behalf of the CSO, said they would be appealing against the court’s decision because, in her view, healthcare activities cannot be considered political.
“This organisation has helped tens of thousands of people over the years but the Ministry of Justice’s unlawful decision is effectively forcing the CSO to close down as we will be unable to pay such huge fines”, said Evgeny Pisemsky, the organisation’s founder and CEO.
The Ministry of Justice identified activities being carried out by CSO through the Parni Plus website on LGBT health issues as being political, although the site itself is not formally part of the organisation.
Information and articles about HIV prevention in Russia posted on the website were deemed to be “political” by the Federation’s Ministry of Health. In particular, the site mentioned the fact that there are no national HIV prevention programmes for men who have sex with other males, despite them being one of the country’s most vulnerable HIV groups.
Pisemsky explained that the CSO receives 95% of its funding from abroad as there is no Russian State funding for HIV prevention schemes among the gay community.