Meet Russia's ‘diabolical’ diabetes nonprofit
Following a complaint by a local university student, officials in Saratov are suing a regional organization that helps diabetics, trying to get the outfit added to Russia’s foreign agents registry.
The organization and its director face fines totaling 1.3 million rubles ($22,500). An “expert review” ordered by police reportedly found that the organization received more than $645,000 from foreign pharmaceutical companies to stage conferences, exhibitions, and athletic competitions for people with diabetes.
Saratov police consulted historian Ivan Konovalov, who concluded that the Saratov Regional Public Organization for Diabetics “supplies foreign partners with information about so-called ‘hot spots’ in the region, especially regarding medical services rendered to the public, that could be used to instigate protest sentiment in society.” Konovalov has offered similar “expertise” in the past, helping police blacklist other nonprofits, which has forced some of these organizations to shut down entirely.
Russia’s law on foreign agents applies to any organization that accepts money from abroad and engages in so-called political activity. Russia’s Justice Ministry currently recognizes 85 foreign agents, including several human rights groups like Memorial, Golos, Agora, and others.
Beginning in 2017, the Russian government gained the right to recognize mass media outlets as foreign agents.