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Rights Group of the Week: Levada Centre

posted 21 Nov 2016, 05:59 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 21 Nov 2016, 06:00 ]
On 18 November 2016 a Moscow court upheld the designation of the Levada Centre as a ‘foreign agent’ NGO, The Moscow Times reports. The Moscow Times notes that the Levada Centre was included by the Ministry of Justice in the register of so-called 'foreign agents' on 5 September 2016. The court dismissed an appeal against the ruling by the Ministry of Justice. 

The Levada Centre is a pollster that has played a crucial role in publicizing the state of public opinion in Russia. Its findings are regularly reported in both Russian and foreign publications. Through its work as an independent organization conducting and publishing regular surveys of public opinion, the NGO has played a key role in promoting and upholding freedom of information in the Russian Federation. 

On 26 October 2016 the Levada Centre had been fined 300,000 roubles ($4,700) for failing to register as a 'foreign agent' NGO. The appeal against this fine has yet to be heard.
As US political scientist Daniel Treisman pointed out in an article in The Moscow Times in May this year, 'Since it was founded in 1987, originally as the All-Union Public Opinion Research Center, the Levada Centre has conducted the country's most credible surveys on social and political topics. It is known around the world for its objectivity and professionalism.' Treisman pointed out that 'prosecutors have ruled that the Levada Center's posting of poll results and analyses constitutes "political activity" because they "influence public opinion".' 

'Court Upholds Foreign Agent Status for Levada Center,' The Moscow Times, 18 November 2016
'Russia's Last Independent Pollster Is Fined for Refusing to Register as a "Foreign Agent",’ The Moscow Times, 23 October 2016
Daniel Treisman, 'Why the Kremlin Hates Levada Center,' The Moscow Times, 23 May 2016
Levada Centre, website