On October 25, Solombala District Court of Arkhangelsk fined the environmental non-profit organization "Aetas" by 150 thousand rubles for refusing to voluntarily enter the register of "foreign agents". According to the lawyer of the NGO Lawyers Club Viktor Vorobyov, who represented the interests of Arkhangelsk environmentalists in court, this is two times less than stipulated by this article in the Code of Administrative Offenses.
According to him, an unscheduled inspection took place after the Ministry of Justice gave letters from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the FSB to the court.
A letter from the regional department of the FSB says that the former head of "Aetas" Dmitry Nesterov was engaged in political activities. Namely – sent an open letter to President Vladimir Putin with a request to consider the recommendations of activists on changes in the laws regulating oil production.
The Ministry of Justice also proposed to attach a screenshot of account of the "Aetas" head Anastasia Kochneva proving her presence at the meeting of Navalny in Arkhangelsk.
"No one really explained the relation of her participation in the meeting of Navalny. She was there in her personal capacity and after the protocol on the administrative violation was drawn up," explained Victor Vorobyev.
As a result, the judge spent only five minutes in the advisory room and decided to fine "Aetas" by 150 thousand rubles. It is not yet known whether the screenshot was attached. According to Vorobyov, this will become clear after environmentalists get the motivation part of the solution.
"Even if the law on "foreign agents" was legal, there are many procedural violations in this case, on the basis of which the case had to be stopped. For example, the deadline for bringing to administrative responsibility has been omitted. We will appeal the decision. The chance to abolish the fine in Russian courts is minimal, but there is still," said Victor Vorobyov.
As the head of the legal service of the NGO Lawyers Club Maxim Olenichev specified, he considers this decision unfair.
"We will seek justice in this matter," Olenichev commented. "The organization was not engaged in political activity, all arguments of the Ministry of Justice are far-fetched. The decision of the court will be challenged immediately, when we receive the text of the decision."
"Aetas" was recognized as a "foreign agent" on September 1, 2017. Money from abroad NGOs received from the largest organization of Norway Natur og Ungdom ("Nature and Youth"), which supported Russian projects. In 2015, one of the "Aetas" volunteers received funding for his project on solid domestic waste utilization from the branch of the American non-profit corporation "American Bar Association, CEELI, Inc.".
Activists are going to liquidate NGO and continue working without a legal entity.
The NGO Lawyers Club unites lawyers of non-profit organizations and lawyers cooperating with them. The club is an independent non-state professional association. Its mission is to provide legal support to Russian NGOs, develop charity and non-profit sector, and promote professional education for lawyers.
Maxim Polyakov, «7x7»