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Crimeans risk being declared "foreign agents" for working with KrymSOS, says lawyer

31.03.2023, 14:58
Photo: / tamila.tasheva
Photo: / tamila.tasheva

Crimean activists and citizen journalists who work with the human rights organization CrimeaSOS, which has been declared an "undesirable" organization by the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia, may be proclaimed "foreign agents".

Human rights advocate and lawyer Mykola Polozov spoke to Radio Liberty's project Krym.Realii about this.

He noted that this may happen if the occupying authorities of Crimea see "political expediency" in such a move.

"Theoretically, prosecuting someone for participating in the work of an undesirable organization has different normative (I will refrain from using the word 'legal') grounds than assigning the foreign agent status to someone. But for the Russian authorities, this will not be an obstacle if there is political expediency in such a move," the lawyer noted.

Mykola Polozov specified that, according to Article 20.33 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, participation in the work of an organization which is "undesirable" in Russia results in a fine in the amount of 5 to 15 thousand rubles. According to Article 284.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, participation in such activities by a person who has previously been prosecuted for a similar act twice within one year is punishable by a fine in the amount of 300,000 to 500,000 rubles or in the amount of the convict's total salary or other income for the period from two to three years. Other possible punishments include up to 360 hours of community service or up to five years of forced labour with or without restriction of freedom for up to two years, or deprivation of liberty for two to six years with or without a ban on holding certain positions or performing certain jobs for up to ten years.

In December 2022, the Russian Ministry of Justice added Sevastopol journalist Anastasia Zhvik to the foreign agents register. She became the first resident of Russian-occupied Crimea to be assigned this status. Zhvik worked with the Meduza, which the Russian authorities have also included in the list of "foreign agents" and declared an "undesirable organization."

In occupied Crimea, the Kremlin-backed authorities intend to fire civil servants if they are assigned foreign agents.

As the IMI reported, on March 27, the Russian Prosecutor General added the NGO KrymSOS in the register of "undesirable" organizations. The Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation stated that KrymSOS "poses a threat to the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation." They say that the organization's goals – the de-occupation and reintegration of Crimea – "are aimed at violating the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation."

Russia adding the NGO KrymSOS in the register of "undesirable" organizations in no way affects the group's work in Ukraine and other civilized countries worldwide. At the same time, the chair of the KrymSOS board, Oleksiy Tilnenko, called on friends and readers who remain in the occupied territories to heed this move by the Russian authorities so as not to become victims of repression.

KrymSOS was founded on February 27, 2014. The organization's work is aimed at highlighting the unlawfulness of Russia's occupation of Crimea and its repressive policy towards Crimeans, maintaining the peninsula's ties with mainland Ukraine, as well as consolidating the Ukrainian society by defending human rights, freedoms, and interests of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other people who suffered as a result of the war.

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