The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation put Artyom Vazhenkov, coordinator of the Golos movement from Tver, on the wanted list, who is accused of malicious failure to fulfill the duties of a foreign agent (Article 330.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), TASS reports citing the press service of the Moscow District Court of Tver.
Vazhenkov, according to the court, “crossed the state border of the Russian Federation by air transport, left for the city of Yerevan, from where he did not return, and therefore was put on the federal (interstate) wanted list.”
According to the head of the Agora human rights organization Pavel Chikov, this is the first known case of being put on the wanted list since the introduction of criminal liability for “foreign agents” for failure to fulfill the obligations that their status imposes.
The criminal case against Vazhenkov, according to Chikov, was initiated on January 30 by an investigator for especially important cases of the ICR in the Tver region. On February 14, the Golos coordinator was charged in absentia, and the next day a court in Tver chose a measure of restraint in the form of detention. “Now he has appeared in the wanted list of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation,” Chikov specified.
Vazhenkov was included in the list of “foreign agents” in 2021, immediately after the elections to the State Duma. He left Russia and decided not to comply with the law, in particular not to mark his posts. In 2022, Vazhenkov was fined twice by the court. The first time – for 10 thousand rubles due to the lack of marking “foreign agent” in the post on Instagram, the second time – for 50 thousand rubles also due to non-marking, but this time the post in the Telegram channel.
For “violation of the procedure for the activities of a foreign agent, committed by a person after he was brought to administrative responsibility,” Vazhenkov faces up to two years in prison.
According to Vazhenkov himself, he was included in the list of media outlets as “foreign agents” because of a money transfer from Nigerian citizen Abure Florence, whom, as the activist claimed, he did not know. He also indicated that it was not a transfer, but “a deal, a sale fee”, which could be seen in the details of his payments. “But Russia believes that this is a serious reason to believe that I am a Nigerian spy,” Vazhenkov concluded.
The law on “foreign agents” in Russia appeared in 2012. He allowed the Ministry of Justice to recognize non-profit organizations as “foreign agents” if they receive funding from abroad and are engaged in political activities. The criteria by which such activities are determined are not clearly defined in the law, which allows the authorities to prosecute organizations working in the field of education, culture, healthcare, ecology, and protection of human rights. Subsequently, it became possible to recognize mass media and individuals as “foreign agents”.
Leave a Reply