Russia fines domestic violence NGO for breaching 'foreign agent' law: lawyer

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court on Wednesday fined a prominent non-governmental organisation supporting victims of domestic violence for breaching the country's foreign agents law, its lawyer said. (No To Violence), a group that provides legal and psychological help in domestic violence cases, was added to the justice ministry's list of "foreign agents" last December.

Russian authorities can label foreign-funded NGOs engaged in political activity "foreign agents." The term, which carries a negative Soviet-era connotation, subjects NGOs, media outlets and individuals to increased bureaucratic scrutiny.

It also obliges them to attach this label to their publications and report their funding.

Lawyer Kirill Koroteyev said would appeal the 300,000 rouble ($3,965) fine.

"It's practically a fine over the fact the centre did not register itself as a 'foreign agent'," Pavel Chikov, a lawyer and rights advocate, quoted Koroteyev as saying. "Of course it couldn't have done so because it doesn't consider itself a 'foreign agent'."

Moscow's Perovsky District Court did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia first adopted legislation in 2012 allowing authorities to label foreign-funded NGOs engaged in political activity "foreign agents." The law has since been broadened to include individuals and bloggers, something rights groups say threatens to stifle dissent.

The country decriminalized some forms of domestic violence in 2017, a move some rights groups said eroded protections for women against abuse.

($1 = 75.6500 roubles)

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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