Nordic information office suspends activities in Russia

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St. Petersburg is Russia's second largest city with more than five million inhabitants. (Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer)
St. Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city with more than five million inhabitants. (Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer)
The Nordic Council of Ministers’ office in St.Petersburg has suspended or postponed many of its planned activities in Russia after being included on the list of NGOs considered as foreign agents.

The decision to suspend parts of the activities is valid until further notice and the situation is updated on a daily basis, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ web site reads.

On January 20, the Russian Ministry of Justice decided to include the Nordic Council of Ministers’ (NMC) office in St Petersburg on the list of NGOs considered as foreign agents in Russia. The Nordic countries have appealed against this decision.

Under Russian law, NGOs engaged in political activities and receiving financing from abroad must register as foreign agents. NCM’s office in Russia has had the status of NGO, i.e. a voluntary organisation, since its inception in 1995.

“The Nordic Council of Ministers regrets what has happened. We believe that both the prosecuting authority’s demands and the Ministry of Justice’s decision are unfounded. The Nordic Council of Ministers’ office has reported this to the prosecuting authority in a meeting,” Secretary General Dagfinn Høybråten said in a press release.

NCM did not succeed in reaching a solution with Russian authorities, and the office in St. Petersburg will freeze most of its acitivities.

Denmark’s Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Chair of the council Carsten Hansen, says that the council has had a good cooperation with Russian and Russians for 20 years, and that the work has been especially important in Northwest-Russia.

“We hope it can continue, but it is not acceptable that the authorities call the office ‘foreign agent’, Hansen says to NRK.

As BarentsObserver reported, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ office on January 12 received a letter from the procurator’s office in St. Petersburg, ordering the office to immediately register as ‘foreign agent’.

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