The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation added Tuesday prominent women’s rights organization supporting domestic violence victims, Nasiliu.net (“Not to Violence”), to its “foreign agent” list under a controversial law aimed at restricting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from operating freely. The “foreign agent” status subjects NGOs, the press, and individuals to higher levels of bureaucratic scrutiny, and requires NGOs to report the status in their published materials, along with all funding and expenses from other countries.
Nasiliu.net Director Anna Rivina wrote that Nasiliu.net was “. . .[V]ery angry,” adding that it planned to “do more in 2021,” and that it would do so “more loudly, transparently and boldly.”
Russia first enacted foreign agent laws in 2012 to regulate foreign-funded NGOs engaged in political activism and has since expanded definitions to include individuals and bloggers. Many human rights groups fear that these laws are designed to end domestic violence protections for women, especially considering that the Russian government decriminalized isolated instances of domestic violence — mainly non-aggravated battery — against non-family members in 2017.
“Our government has once again shown that it’s forbidden to fight violence in our country,” women’s rights activist Alena Popova wrote. She continued, “Under any pretext, they try to interfere with the activities of an organization that helps victims of domestic violence.”
Russia had added on Monday veteran rights activist Lev Ponomaryov and four other individuals to the list.