A new round of persecution for Lyudmila Kuzmina, head of independent election monitor Golos in Samara

posted 18 Mar 2016, 11:44 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Mar 2016, 11:46 ]
14 March 2016

Source: HRO.org (info)
Samara regional court has ruled the head of Golos-Povolzhye, Lyudmila Kuzmina, must pay more than 2m roubles and all costs for “governmental losses incurred through a failure to pay profit tax. In reality what is at issue is the fact that government officials want to impose taxes on donations, Radio Svoboda reports, citing Lyudmila Kuzmina.

Kuzmina points out that once again she expects her assets to be frozen: "an inventory of the sofa and the refrigerator and claims for millions [or roubles] lodged against my pension."

The verdict was delivered on the basis of an appeal by the Samara Interdistrict Tax Inspectorate No. 18. Officials did not attend the court hearing. “Why bother attending, when everything is decided in advance?” Lyudmila Kuzmina said.

In November, a Samara district court dismissed a claim by the Federal Tax Inspectorate against Lyudmila Kuzmina, the head of Golos-Povolzhe, an NGO working for the protection of voters’ rights.

The Federal Tax Inspectorate is accusing Lyudmila Kuzmina of “tax evasion” between 2010-2012. Back then Golos organized the work of election observers at regional polling stations during elections in Russia. They had legitimate donations from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The Federal Tax Inspectorate alleged that the “Transparent Elections” project was carried out in the interests of the US, and therefore USAID donations made to Golos were, the Inspectorate said, taxable income.

Lyudmila Kuzmina believes that she is the victim of persecution intended to shut down the organisation.

A criminal case that investigators had previously brought against Lyudmila Kuzmina in relation to tax evasion had been closed in September last year due to statute of limitation.

Translated by Julz Marulina