Sheremetyevo Customs Fines Media Activist

Media activist Manana Aslamazyan has been fined 1,000 rubles ($40) by Sheremetyevo Airport customs service for failing to declare excess cash after arriving on an international flight last year.

Customs service spokeswoman Marina Cherkasova said Aslamazyan had 10 days to appeal the decision.

"If she doesn't and pays the fine within 30 days, then we won't have any more claims with her," she said by telephone Friday.

Aslamazyan's lawyer Viktor Parshutkin said his client "has always agreed to pay a fine," Interfax reported.

Sheremetyevo customs issued its decision Friday, about four months after the Constitutional Court backed Aslamazyan in a case that media rights groups have criticized as a clampdown on media freedom.

Aslamazyan, the head of Educated Media Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that trains journalists, failed to declare properly 9,550 euros (worth $12,400 at the time) when passing customs control on her return to Moscow from Paris in early 2007. Under the law, travelers must declare any amount worth more than $10,000. Smuggling charges were filed against her, and investigators raided the office of her group a few months later. The group suspended its operations, saying it could not work after the raid, and Aslamazyan fled to Paris.

The Constitutional Court ruled in May that the law on declaring cash violated citizens' constitutional rights, and the criminal charges against Aslamazyan were replaced with administrative ones.