Russian LGBT film festival wins appeal against fines under ‘foreign agent’ law

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The Side by Side (Bok o Bok), film festival, has won its appeal against fines under a recently introduced “foreign agent”, law in Russia.

On 4 October, it was ruled at the City Court of St Petersburg, at its final appeal, that the festival had not violated the laws.

A 400,000 rubles (£7,700) fine was overturned by the court.

Citing the reason for the decision, Mikhail Pavlyuchenko, Deputy Chairman of the Saint Petersburg City Court, stated: “the Magistrates Court had incorrectly applied the procedural provisions of the Administrative Code, and in the case of the District Court the Judge overlooked these significant violations of procedural requirements”.

A statement from Bok o Bok read: “We are pleased with the decision and finally justice has been done! We are grateful to our lawyers, Dmitry Bartenev and Sergey Golubok, who displayed a high level of professionalism throughout the case, to all the individuals and organizations who rendered help and support during these difficult times and to those who made generous donations in order to pay the fine. At present we are requesting the return of the funds paid to the authorities and additionally we will be suing for damages incurred by the organization. We hope that other NGOs also being prosecuted under this law will also win, restoring justice to the court system in Russia.”

The Bok o Bok (Side by Side) Festival, which originated in the city of St Petersburg, was established in 2007, and recently expanded to several other Russian cities including Moscow, Tomsk, Arkhangelsk, Perm and Novosibirsk.

A case against the head of Bok o Bok, is still pending, following an appeal against the guilty verdict. The hearing is expected to be heard in late October.