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The Ministry of Justice lists Deutsche Welle as a foreign agent

The Ministry of Justice has registered Deutsche Welle as a «foreign agent».

Last week, the Ministry of Justice added the newspaper Troitsky Variant-Nauka, the charitable foundation KAF and the non-profit organization Friends of the Baltics to the list of «foreign agents».

The Russian law on «foreign agent» media was adopted in 2017. According to it, any media outlet that receives funding or property from abroad can be recognized as a «foreign agent». In 2019, a new law was passed that made it possible to classify as «foreign agents» not only legal entities but also individuals. Since December 2020, individuals and unregistered public associations that receive funding from abroad may also be labeled as foreign agents for «political activity» in Russia, which actually means public discussion of the actions by any government body. In addition, on March 1, 2021, the penalties for violating the «law on foreign agents» were increased: today they include both administrative fines and criminal liability of up to five years in prison.

Over the past few years, more than two hundred media outlets, NGOs, and individuals have been registered as «foreign agents». The first five individuals - human rights defender Lev Ponomarev, journalists Lyudmila Savitskaya, Sergei Markelov and Denis Kamalyagin, and civic activist Darya Apakhonchich - were added to the corresponding list on December 28, 2020.

The «foreign agents» registers have been regularly updated since April 23, 2021, when Meduza and First Anti-Corruption Media Outlet received the status. On May 14, VTimes was recognized as a «foreign agent», and its editors later decided to close the media outlet because of the new status.

Last summer, The Insider, Dozhd, and Important Stories were recognized as «foreign agents,» along with several dozen journalists from various publications. For example, the Ministry of Justice registered Open Media journalist Ilya Rozhdestvenskii (the publication is blocked in Russia) as foreign agent because of his articles about Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov, the case of journalist Ivan Safronov who is accused of treason, and street protests. At the same time, the Ministry of Justice called a «state secret» the contents of the Rosfinmonitoring letter which served as the basis for the recognition of Rozhdestvensky's colleagues Yulia Yarosh and Maxim Glikin as «foreign agents».

On 29 September, OVD-Info, Mediazona, their publisher Petr Verzilov and editor-in-chief Sergei Smirnov were added to the list of «foreign agents». According to the Ministry of Justice, Mediazona was listed because it cited other «foreign agents» and received income from Google Ads, considered foreign financing by the Ministry. Earlier, the Russian court insisted that a similar income be paid to Tsargrad.

In addition, 20 people associated with the Golos movement were declared «foreign agents» in September. Just a few days earlier, Russia held elections to the State Duma, during which Golos uncovered numerous violations. Notably, the Justice Ministry said Tambov Golos branch coordinator Vladimir Zhilkin was registered as a «foreign agent» for receiving 171 rubles from a Moroccan student, and Altai Golos coordinator Katerina Kiltau for receiving a wire transfer from a Tajik national and for commenting to Sibir.Realii.

Later, the Ministry of Justice recognized as «foreign agents» the legal entities RS-Balt and Moskow Digital Media which own the publications Rosbalt and Republic, attorney-at-law Ivan Pavlov and four other human rights activists from Team 29, as well as the Russian LGBT Network and its founder Igor Kochetkov.

The last people to join the Justice Ministry's registry in 2021 were writer Viktor Shenderovich, publicist Marat Gelman, activists Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Veronika Nikulshina, Taisiya Bekbulatova, Kholod's chief editor Ivan Belyaev, journalist Elena Vladykina and general director of the Yaroslavl cinema club Neft Andrei Alexeyev.

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