It turns out that a simple hyperlink is enough to trigger Russia's ban on ‘undesirable organizations’

13:45, 7 september 2017

Police are investigating the analytical “Sova” Center and its director Alexander Verkhovsky for violations of Russia’s law on “undesirable organizations.”

According to “Sova,” officials say it committed this misdemeanor offense by including in its website's “About Us” section hyperlinks to the Soros Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy (two organizations recognized by the Russian government as “undesirable”).

State prosecutors told “Sova” that the hyperlinks constitute the dissemination of illegal information. In a statement, “Sova” said it’s never hidden its donors, but agreed to remove the hyperlinks in this case. Despite this capitulation, however, prosecutors haven’t closed the administrative case against the analytical center and its director.

In May 2015, President Putin enacted legislation on nonprofit organizations whose activity in Russia is deemed “undesirable” by the Justice Ministry. The law places steep fines on individuals and legal entities that cooperate with such organizations, in addition to potential prison sentences as long as six years.
George Soros’ Open Society Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy were blacklisted in 2015. As of September 2017, a total of 11 organizations are listed as “undesirable” by the Russian Justice Ministry.