Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Russia labels LGBT rights group, lawyers as ‘foreign agents’

MOSCOW (NWN) — Russian authorities on Monday night named a prominent LGBT rights group and several lawyers as “foreign agents,” continuing a months-long crackdown on activists, opposition supporters and independent media.

The Justice Ministry added Russian LGBT networks, prominent lawyer Ivan Pavlov, and four of his former associates to its registry of “foreign agents”. The designation implies additional government scrutiny and has strong derogatory connotations that may discredit recipients.

The Russian LGBT network has advocated for civil rights in Russia since 2006 and has 17 branches across the country. The group is well known in Russia and abroad for attempting to protect gay men and lesbians from Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region in the Russian South where local authorities were reported to have launched violent crackdowns on LGBT people.

Pavlov and four other activists added to the list used to be part of Team 29, a union of lawyers and journalists specializing in treason and espionage cases and freedom of information issues. Team 29 shut down earlier this year for fear of prosecuting its members and supporters, after authorities accused the group of spreading material from a Czech non-governmental organization that had been declared “undesirable” in Russia. .

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In April, Russian authorities launched a criminal case against Pavlov, representing a former Russian journalist accused of treason. They accused Pavlov, who has since left Russia and settled in Georgia, of disclosing information related to the police investigation.

The Russian LGBT network said in a statement that it would continue to conduct and oppose the designation in court.

“We do not know why we have been declared ‘foreign agents’. The Russian LGBT network disagrees with this position. We are not involved in political activities, we provide legal and psychological support to[and]the rights of the LGBT+ community.” protect,” the statement read.

Pavlov echoed the group’s sentiment in a Facebook post and promised to fight the designation, saying he expected it.

In recent months, the Russian government has designated several independent media outlets, journalists and human rights groups as “foreign agents”. At least two were disbanded to avoid further action.

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