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Russia closes Nordic Council office as "foreign agent"

Published fredag 23 januari 2015 kl 20.21
Flags of the five nordic states. Photo: TT
Flags of the five nordic states. Photo: TT

The Nordic Council office in St Petersburg has been closed by Russian authorities, who decided the Nordic Council’s social-political programme was not acceptable.

The Nordic Council is made up of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, as well as the autonomous entities of Åland, Faeroes and Greenland.

Since 2013 the Russian Minister of Justice has had the power to shut down groups operating in Russia that are financed from abroad.

“I can only say this is connected to the Nordic Council’s social-political programme”, says Marina Nikolayeva, spokesperson at the St Petersburg Prosecutor’s Office, to Russian state broadcaster Voice of Russia.

Finnish newspaper HBL reports the Nordic Council have shut down operations in St Petersburg following the legal blow against their office. There are five other sub-offices in north-west Russia, which were led from St Petersburg.

Head of staff for the Council is Kenneth Broman, based in Denmark. He says to HBL they were planning a seminar on healthcare, but that has to be cancelled.

”We have to lie low, for the sake of our partner organisations, who now also risk being labelled as financing foreign agents.”

He says he sees no link between the shutting down of the Nordic office and the conflict between EU and Russia over that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

But political scientist professor Nikolay Petrov, at the Russian Higher School of Economics, says “Russia is under siege, and all one can do is to snap at those who are trying to put pressure on Russia.” 

He says to Voice of Russia that due to the broad range of the Nordic Council’s activities it is not hard to find something to object to.

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