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Transparency International placed on Russia’s ‘foreign agents’ list

The Russian branch of the NGO Transparency International has been classified as a “foreign agent.”

This decision was announced on the website of the Russian Ministry of Justice. The ruling was made on April 7 following a prosecutor’s investigation of the NGO and its activities.

The fact that the organization is an NGO which carries out the functions of a foreign agent was established during an inspection conducted by authorities of the prosecutor’s office.

Russia's Ministry of Justice

Transparency International is an international NGO devoted to combatting corruption. It focuses on prevention and reforming systems and is funded by government development agencies and donations from the private sector.

Since November 2012, NGO’s which carry out political activities in Russia and have foreign funding are required by law to register as foreign agents. Since June 2012, the Ministry of Justice has the authority to classify NGOs as foreign agents following an investigation. “Foreign agent” status results in very high levels of official scrutiny of NGO activities and accounting. If an NGO refuses to register after a ruling classifies it as a foreign agent, it may face closure. There are 51 organizations listed in the foreign agents registry as of April 6.

The investigation of Transparency International in Russia was launched in late January. The same kind of investigation was launched in relation to the activities of the human rights organization Moscow Helsinki Group.

Elena Panfilova, the head of Transparency International’s Russia branch, reported in February that the Ministry of Justice asked the NGO to register as a foreign agent. Panfilova said that the organization would appeal the decision.