Law of the Week: ‘Foreign agent’ law applied to Golos, Rosbalt and Republic

Week-ending 22 October 2021

The Russian authorities continue to use the ‘foreign agent’ law as a repressive instrument against freedom of expression and association. This week a court dismissed a legal challenge by the independent election monitor Golos to the August 2021 decision by the Ministry of Justice to add the organisation to the list of ‘foreign agents’ on the grounds the organisation received 200 roubles from a citizen of Armenia. Golos was designated a ‘foreign agent’ just weeks before the elections to the State Duma in September. Also this week, the Ministry of Justice designated two media outlets – Rosbalt and Republic – as media ‘foreign agents.’


The Moscow Times, 18 October 2021: Russia’s government on Friday declared two more popular media outlets “foreign agents,” pressing ahead with a crackdown on dissent and freedom of expression. The justice ministry added Rosbalt and Republic to its list of “foreign agents.”

The Moscow Times, 22 October 2021: Golos, an independent vote-monitoring movement, was named a “foreign agent” by Russia’s Justice Ministry in August after receiving a $3 contribution from an Armenian citizen, the movement’s co-chairman Grigory Melkonyants said on Facebook.  A Russian court denied Golos’ challenge against being designated a “foreign agent,” explaining that the grounds for the vote-monitoring organization being added to list was two transfers of “about 200 rubles” ($2.80) from a citizen of ex-Soviet republic Armenia, Melkonyants said. The Russian Justice Ministry included Golos, a local organization that observes elections, in its list of “foreign agents” just weeks before September’s parliamentary elections in a move widely decried as a ploy to frustrate their efforts to monitor and report on election fraud.

RFE/RL, 22 October 2021: If a report is deemed erroneous, a designated “foreign agent” could face a fine of up to 300,000 rubles ($4,250) or a prison term from two to five years.

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