Citizens’ Watch was awarded a fine of 300,000 rubles

We received the decision of the Kuibyshevsky District Court of St. Petersburg on the case of inaccuracies in the foreign agents’ reports of Citizens’ Watch for the past year (article 19.34 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation). The court imposed a fine on Citizens’ Watch in the amount of 300,000 rubles.

On December 1, 2022, new reporting forms for so-called “foreign agents” were introduced. From the beginning of the organization’s activities, the Citizens’ Watch’s team took a responsible approach to reporting issues, no matter how absurd and excessive it may be. Previously, we reported using forms posted on the official website of the Ministry of Justice. Unfortunately, this practice failed us when we reported for 2022: it turned out that there were only old forms on which we reported.

On September 6, a protocol on an administrative offense under Part 2 of Article 19.34 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation was drawn up against our human rights organization for the submission of foreign agent’s report for the 4th quarter of 2022 using the old form. The court hearing took place on November 9. Citizens’ Watch didn’t deny in court the fact that the organization committed an administrative offense, despite the fact that the team acted in good faith with regard to obligatory reporting. However, we asked the court that the administrative offense be recognized as insignificant, since we submitted the required reports on time, although with inaccuracies, the reports on old forms contain more information than reports on new forms, the administrative offense was committed for the first time and obviously did not cause any harm.

However, judge Aleksander Zhukov  didn’t agree with our arguments. According to the court, Citizens’ Watch is not in a difficult financial situation, and therefore there are no grounds for replacing a fine with a warning, despite mitigating circumstances: committing an administrative offense for the first time and recognizing the fact of committing an administrative offense. Thus, in order to facilitate the correction of the offender, the court considered the punishment in the form of a fine of 300,000 rubles to be proportionate. So far, the organization’s team has no idea where to get this money from.

Citizens’ Watch is appealing the district court’s decision to a higher authority. The hearing in the St. Petersburg City Court is scheduled for December 12.