Republic Edition figured outwhy the Ministry of Justice turned on him to the list of “foreign agents” in October 2021. The reason was the sale of subscriptions to 4 embassies and 1 consulate of foreign countries, as well as to the Wall Street Journal bureau and 2 more foreign organizations.
The Ministry of Justice indicated such grounds in a response to a lawsuit by which the Republic disputes its inclusion in the register of media outlets as “foreign agents”. The Ministry recognized the payment of subscriptions by these organizations as “foreign funding”. Along with this, the department refers to the “distribution or citation” of materials from media outlets that are “foreign agents” on the Republic website.
Republic notes that the publication exists on the money of subscribers, while the funds received from the subscription cannot be considered foreign funding. As Republic points out, embassies can pay for subscriptions to various publications, such as Rossiyskaya Gazeta, published by the Russian government. However, after Republic was included in the register of “foreign agents” media, the publication completely refused to sell subscriptions to legal entities, both foreign and Russian.
A hearing on the lawsuit has not yet been scheduled. The lawsuit will be considered by Judge Nelli Rubtsova, who has previously denied similar claims to many other media outlets.
The law on media-“foreign agents” was adopted in Russia in 2017. According to it, any media outlet that receives funding or property from abroad can be recognized as a “foreign agent”. In 2019, a new law was adopted, which made it possible to classify as “foreign agents” not only legal entities, but also individuals. From December 2020, individuals and unregistered public associations receiving funding from abroad will also can give this status is for “political activity” in Russia, which de facto includes any public assessment of the activities of any public authorities. In addition, on March 1, 2021, penalties for violations of the activities of “foreign agents” were toughened: today they provide for both administrative fines and criminal liability for up to five years in prison.
Over the past years, more than two hundred media outlets, NGOs and individuals have been included in the registers of “foreign agents”. The first five people – human rights activist Lev Ponomarev, journalists Lyudmila Savitskaya, Sergey Markelov and Denis Kamalyagin, as well as civil activist Daria Apakhonchich – were included to the corresponding list on December 28, 2020.
The registers of “foreign agents” are regularly replenished starting from April 23, 2021, when the corresponding status was assigned publications Meduza and First Anti-Corruption Mass Media. On May 14, VTimes was recognized as a “foreign agent” media outlet, the editors of which later decided to close the media outlet due to the new status.
Last summer, The Insider, Dozhd and Important Stories, as well as several dozen journalists from various publications, were recognized as “foreign agents”. For example, the Ministry of Justice introduced Ilya Rozhdestvensky was put on the list of Open Media journalist (the publication is blocked in Russia) because of materials about Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov, about the case of journalist Ivan Safronov accused of treason, and street protests. At the same time, the Ministry of Justice named The contents of the letter from Rosfinmonitoring, which led to the recognition of Rozhdestvensky’s colleagues Yulia Yarosh and Maxim Glikin as “foreign agents”, were “government secrets”.
September 29 lists of “foreign agents” replenished OVD-Info, Mediazona, its publisher Pyotr Verzilov and editor-in-chief Sergey Smirnov. According to statement Ministry of Justice, “Mediazona” was included in the corresponding list due to the citation of other “foreign agents”, as well as due to income from Google–advertising, which the agency considered foreign funding. At the same time, earlier the Russian court itself insisted on the payment of similar income to Tsargrad.
In addition, 20 people associated with the Golos movement were recognized as “foreign agents” in September. Just a few days earlier, elections to the State Duma were held in Russia, in which, thanks to Golos, numerous violations were revealed. Notably, the Ministry of Justice explained inclusion of the coordinator of the Tambov branch of Golos Vladimir Zhilkin in the list of “foreign agents” by receiving 171 rubles from a Moroccan student, and the coordinator of the Altai “Voice” Katerina Kiltau – by a money transfer from a citizen of Tajikistan and a commentary for “Siberia.Realii”.
Later, the Ministry of Justice recognized them as “foreign agents” legal entity RS-Balt and Moscow Digital Media, which own Rosbalt and Republic publications, lawyer Ivan Pavlov and four other ex-employees of the human rights organization Team 29, as well as the Russian LGBT Network and its founder Igor Kochetkov.
The last to replenish the register of the Ministry of Justice in 2021 are become writer Viktor Shenderovich, publicist Marat Gelman, activists Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Veronika Nikulshina, editor-in-chief of the Kholod publication Taisiya Bekbulatova, journalist Ivan Belyaev, journalist Elena Vladykina and Andrey Alekseev, general director of the Yaroslavl film club Oil.