Nordic Council of Ministers targeted by Russian anti-spy law

Inter-governmental organisation’s office branded ‘foreign agent’

Denmark is calling for a quick resolution to a situation that is straining diplomatic relations between the Nordic countries and Russia. The Russian government has designated the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Saint Petersburg office as a ‘foreign agent’, under legislation ostensibly to prevent foreign interference with Russian affairs.

Denmark is the current chair of the council, and Carsten Hansen, the minister for Nordic co-operation, said that he didn’t want the situation to compromise the organisation’s work in Russia.

“The Nordic Council of Ministers has for 20 years had a reciprocal and good co-operation with the authorities and organisations in northwest Russia,” he said in a press release.

 “We hope that this can continue. But it is not acceptable that the authorities call the office a ‘foreign agent’. We insist on a quick clarification of the office’s status.”

Inspections and investigations
The Foreign Ministry reports that the office has been the subject of inspections by the prosecuting authorities, and that its activities have been investigated under Russia’s NGO legislation. The ‘foreign agent’ designation is the result of this investigation and the office being deemed to conduct political activities.

Under a law enacted in 2012, over 30 organisations operating in Russia have been designated ‘foreign agents’, including a number of human rights organisations.