The Ministry of justice included the Levada center in the list of foreign agents

Autonomous nonprofit organization “Analytical center of Yury Levada” is included in the register of noncommercial organizations performing functions of a foreign agent, says the report of the justice Ministry published on the Ministry’s website.

The report said that the “conformity” of the organization the signs of a foreign agent was installed during unscheduled inspections held by the Federal security service of Russia in Moscow. The justice Ministry carried out the inspection in mid to late August, said the Deputy Director of the Levada center Alexei Grazhdankin.

Foreign money

Foreign agent status to nonprofit organizations appeared in 2012. They are NGOs that have foreign funding and conducting political activities, now in the list of foreign agents listed 140 organizations. The Ministry of justice considered foreign funding “Levada” “the presence of agreements with foreign marketing companies and universities for research,” said Grazhdankin.

The definition of political activities in the law on NGOs was fleshed out in 2016. Now the law says that political activity is “the emergence of socio-political views and beliefs, including by conducting public opinion polls and publication of their results or the performance of other sociological studies. The study of public opinion was the reason for the recognition of Levada as a foreign agent, said Grazhdankin.

“We have agreements with foreign marketing companies and universities for research, the Ministry of justice considered foreign financing. The second reason is that we study public opinion. For the combination of these two reasons we are considered a foreign agent,” said Grazhdankin. According to him, has not yet expired for filing objections to the inspection report, and the Levada center intends to guide them.

After may of this year a law was passed that expands the definition of political activities for NGOs, the Levada center has not entered into new contracts with foreign companies, says Grazhdankin. According to him, criticism of the Ministry of justice has caused contracts that didn’t bother the Agency in 2014, during previous inspections. Still the deadline for filing objections to the inspection report, and the Levada center intends to guide them.

To verify the fact of receipt of foreign grants” Levada center in June, the justice Department appealed to the movement “Antimaydan” Senator Dmitry Sablin. In the statement it was said that Levada-the center “continues to conduct research through the Department of defense by order of the University of Wisconsin and allegedly received from the United States more than $120 thousand, Director of Levada Lev Gudkov said at the time that any relationship with the Ministry of defence sociologists had, and with the Wisconsin University conducts joint research projects.

In 2016, the University of Wisconsin issued the Levada center grant in the amount of $8.4 million of the Money was allocated from the grant that the University received from the U.S. Department of defense, the same sociological grant the center received in 2015. A grant from Wisconsin who received a grant from the Ministry of defence, the Levada center has received in 2014, then it amounted to $107 thousand, follows from the data of the website

Grazhdankin said that the acts of the verification of information about the query “anti-Maidan” was not, but he believes that the inspection of the Ministry of justice and the request of “Maidan” are connected. Co-movement Nikolai Starikov on Monday evening welcomed the decision of the Ministry of justice.

In the report “Levada” on the website of the Ministry of justice stated that the center received from foreign organizations 3.6 million RUB in 2015.

Levada center is not the only social service that publishes pre-election polls and receiving foreign funding. The Director of the state VTsIOM Valery Fyodorov in an interview with Life in July, said his center also receives money from the American universities.” To the question whether the Ministry of justice checks the Polls in connection with foreign financing, Fedorov replied in the negative. “The last time I checked three years ago. Maybe tomorrow will come”, — said Fedorov.

The decision for the elections

NGO-agents are required to indicate their status in all publications in the media and on the Internet. They may not “carry out activities, promoting or preventing the nomination of candidates, lists of candidates, election of registered candidates, the initiative of holding a referendum and holding a referendum, achieving a certain result at elections, referendum and other forms to participate in election campaigns, campaigns of a referendum, says the law” On basic guarantees of electoral rights”.

It is not excluded that due recognition noagenda sociologists will not be able to continue to conduct pre-election polls, said the expert of the movement “Golos” Gregory Melkonyants. But Levada-the centre should apply to the CEC for clarification, whether sociological activities under the ban, said the expert. The Levada center will continue to conduct research, but it will have to specify on all materials the status of a foreign agent, says Grazhdankin.

The decision of justice connected with the elections of the state Duma, which will be held on September 18, said Melkonyants. “In the midst of the election campaign by the Levada center quickly included in the register, after he had published the survey results are not rosy for the party in power”, — said the expert. In early September, the Levada center published a poll, according to which the rating of “United Russia” has dropped significantly. The number of citizens ready to vote for the ruling party in the elections of the state Duma, has decreased from 39 to 31% of respondents (the survey of 1600 people in 48 regions from 26 to 29 August 2016). The percentage of those who go to the polling station and undecided has fallen from 57 to 50%. A sharp drop in the rating of United Russia “Levada noted in the June and in the may polls.

The Levada center was founded by immigrants from Russia’s oldest sociological service VTSIOM, headed by Yuri Levada. In 2013, after the adoption of the laws on NGOs-registered as a foreign agent, the center has repeatedly verified the Prosecutor’s office, then the status of inherent sociologists avoided.