The court suspended the status of Maria Sabunayeva as a foreign agent


In April, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation included Maria Sabunayeva, the former employee of the LGBTQ+ initiative group Coming Out, to the list of foreign agents. We told you what Maria thought about it here.

Maria is a practicing psychologist and author of many books and - brochures  about  psychological problems of queer people, including publications by Coming Out.

On 14 September, the Oktyabrsky District Court in St. Petersburg issued a decision suspending the decision of the Ministry of Justice from 15 April 2022 to include Maria Sabunayeva in the register of foreign media outlets performing the functions of a foreign agent - until the court decision on the case comes into effect.

The suspension went into effect on 14 September and will remain in effect for the entire period, until the end of the trial, but the defendant can appeal it within two weeks.

The next court hearing in Sabunayeva's case will be held on October 12. The case is being handled by Coming Out lawyer.

Here's what Maria Sabunaeva has to say about it:

The court's decision to suspend the status of foreign agent came as a surprise to me, I had not heard of such variants of decisions before. I am glad that I do not have to at least temporarily carry out all those meaningless obligations, which this status assigned to me. For example, reporting of toilet paper purchase, conventionally speaking. But alas, this is not a cancellation of the status, I'm not going to be particularly happy, it may well be another round of mocking. Although the small break is nice. But even if I will be excluded from the list, the only thing that would satisfy me globally is the complete abolition of the law.

The law on foreign agents prevents me and my family, including my child, from living normally. We had to leave home, my child had to leave his beloved school, and we are forced to wander in foreign lands. I experienced a lot of stress and lost my health. I was writing some abnormal reports about unknown things. I was forced to register an LLC, which I absolutely do not need, but it requires expenses for maintenance."

Ksenia Mikhailova, the attorney of Coming Out, explains that the suspension of the foreign agent status is a temporary measure.

While the case is being considered in court, it eliminates the problems associated with having this status: labeling, financial reporting and other things.

"The fact that the courts have begun to apply preliminary protection measures in such cases does not mean that the decision will be rendered in favor of the complainant. But it does show that the court plans to look into the question of whether there were indeed grounds for including a person in the register of foreign agents, as provided by discriminatory Russian law. In this case, the complainant is subject to double prosecution - both as a human rights activist and as an LGBTQ+ activist - but it is unlikely that the court intends to check whether there was discrimination," says Mikhailova.