Officials have launched their first case against a nonprofit organization for fraudulent evasion of Russia's law on “foreign agents.” Police are charging Valentina Cherevatenko, the chairperson of the nongovernmental organization “Women of the Don,” of fraudulently evading the law. If convicted, she could go to prison for up to two years.
The newspaper Kommersant reports that police have raided the nonprofit's offices. Officials say Cherevatenko “deliberately” failed to apply for inclusion on the government's list of foreign agents, despite the fact that “Women of the Don” has received foreign funding and engages in political activity. Cherevatenko denies that her group takes money from abroad.
Cherevatenko says the political persecution against her intensified after the launch of her group's project “Civil Minsk,” which aims to establish civilian monitoring control of the implementation of the Minsk Agreements [which created a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine]: “We don't engage in what they're trying to accuse us of. We haven't taken foreign money for a long time.”
Cherevatenko says the “Women of the Don” union was added to the foreign-agents list in June 2014. She later founded the “Women of the Don” foundation. To date, Cherevatenko says, the union has been removed from the foreign-agents list, but the foundation remains listed. Officials say the group receives money from an organization in Germany.
Russian criminal-code article 330.1 stipulates that the fraudulent evasion of the law on foreign agents carries a maximum punishment of two years in prison.