A judge in the Russian city of Kostroma ruled Wednesday that a local civic organization, which this year held a roundtable discussion with a political officer from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, was a “foreign agent” and found it guilty of failing to register as such.
The Kostroma Center for the Support of Public Initiatives was fined the equivalent of nearly $10,000, according to the Agora human rights society. The small group said it had received only minor grants from the International Republican Institute and the U.S. Embassy.
It was the second group found guilty of violating the law that requires nongovernmental organizations receiving funds from abroad to register as foreign agents if they are involved in political activity. The first was Golos, an independent election monitor fined at the end of April. Golos says it has received no money from abroad since the law took effect in November.
Rights activists say the law, passed with President Vladimir Putin’s backing, is meant to stifle development of democracy-building groups.
— Kathy LallyTop