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Golos will appeal court decision

25 April 2013 

Source: (info)
Magistrate Elena Semenchenok, sitting in Moscow’s Presnensky district magistrates court No 379, found the Golos Association for Voters’ Rights guilty of ‘violating the rules regulating a non-profit organization that functions as a foreign agent’ (Article 19.34, Section 1, of the Administrative Code). The NGO has been fined 300,000 roubles.

‘We shall of course appeal this judgment since we believe it to be unlawful and unfounded. The charges against Golos are quite without grounds,’ said Ramil Akhmetgaliev, a lawyer from the Agora Human Rights Association. ‘In court we affirmed with the relevant documents that the Norwegian Helsinki Committee did not make any agreements with the Golos Association. At the same time Golos, after the award of the prize, told the Norwegian Helsinki Committee that it could not accept the money award precisely because of the new law on foreign agents. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee accepted that it had transferred the funds in error. As soon as Golos discovered that the money had been sent to them, they instructed the bank to return it. The funds were returned from the bank’s transit account and never reached the Golos Association’s own bank accounts. Moreover, according to the Civil Code, the gift of monetary sums from a legal person must be agreed in writing. Failure to observe the need for an agreement in writing means only one thing, that the deal is void. The Civil Code directly says that such a deal has no legal consequences from the moment of the transfer of the money.

Finding the Golos Association guilty of actions of another legal person - the Regional Public Organization which several years ago developed a draft Election Code - is also unfounded. In the first place the law on foreign agents does not have retroactive effect, as the Ministry of Justice itself has stressed on a number of occasions.

Secondly, the Golos Association, under the provisions of the Civil Code and the Administrative Law Code, is not liable for the actions of its members. In any case the development of a draft bill cannot be found to be political activity. The Golos Association has never supported specific political parties, and its activities are solely confined to serving the interests of citizens, specifically ensuring the observance of electoral rights as laid down in the Constitution.