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"There are serious doubts about the competence of the authors of this document."

Source: (Author), 18/05/10

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The Prosecutor General’s Office unlawfully and without evidence links the political opposition and human rights defenders with terrorists... – Sova Centre

On 18 May 2010 was published the Prosecutor General’s response to the Duma Security Committee’s formal request for information about the ideology and political ideas of which terrorist groups operating on Russian territory make use.

Among other things, the document states that one of the purposes of the terrorists’ propaganda war is to encourage the “so-called “fighters” for human rights, members of the political opposition, separatists, members of illegal armed groups and nationalist and religious reactionary organisations.” It is not entirely clear which human rights defenders and members of the political opposition are implied by this statement, but the fact of putting them in such a context without further elaboration raises serious doubts about the competence of the authors of this document.

Further reading of the document confirms these concerns. The document alleges that the growth of “faiths that are not traditional for Russia”, the increasing numbers of Satanists and occultists, proselytism and “aggressive missionary policy” result in the appearance of believers with a radical frame of mind. In our view, this is not only fundamentally untrue, since radical groups of believers emerged, and continue to emerge, regardless of “non-traditional” missionary activity, but it also has nothing to do with terrorism.

What is also perplexing is that the discussion of the dangers of separatism is followed by a paragraph beginning with the words “The National Bolshevik Party is a clear example of this...” Either the authors of the document do not understand the issue, or the paragraph about the National Bolshevik Party (a group which can hardly be suspected of separatism) was simply put in the wrong place in the text.

Apart from the National Bolshevik Party (the unlawful banning of which gives no right to call it a terrorist organisation), the Prosecutor General’s Office made reference to the Other Russia coalition and the Russian People’s Democratic Union, the religious Islamic movement Nurdzhular and others. (Among those mentioned, of course, was the Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, banned as a terrorist organisation. There are very good grounds to consider this ban unlawful, but at least in this case the document’s authors had formal grounds for their statement.) Strictly speaking, nothing is mentioned in the document about any links between these organisations and terrorism.

There is concern that the authors of this document, which is intended for the deputies of the State Duma, do not differentiate between the concepts in Russian law of “terrorism” and “extremism”. Either that, or the document was simply prepared incompetently. (It should be noted that the document contains wholly reasonable points, for example, about far right groups, although neither in these cases were the groups’ relationship to the terrorist threat made clear).

What is also regrettable is the stance taken by the Security Committee of the State Duma, at whose request this document was written.