Human rights defenders: "The authorities are planning a blitzkrieg!"

29 April 2013 

Source: (info)
On 28 April representatives of non-profit organizations held a press conference at the Andrei Sakharov Centre on the issue of the mass inspections of NGOs. Those taking part were Ludmila Alekseeva (chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group), Svetlana Gannushkina (Civic Assistance Committee), Georgy Satarov (INDEM Centre), Lev Ponomarev (movement For Human Rights) and the lawyer Karinna Moskalenko. The press conference was called at short notice – with just one day’s notice. The following Monday or Tuesday the report by the Public Prosecutor’s Office on the results of the NGO inspections, the scale of which has already reached frightening proportions, is to be published. Those at the press conference agreed that these inspections could not be considered lawful.

Karinna Moskalenko, who is legal counsel for Ludmila Alekseeva and Lev Ponomarev, said: "War has been declared on civil society. And we must know who our enemy is. What legal, or extra-legal position is this enemy taking? And we need to understand our own position: what is the nature of the position, based exclusively on the law, to which we must stick? We shall coordinate our actions to save ourselves, if it is at all possible to save ourselves."

"It is possible! They won’t live to see that!" Ludmila Alekseeva interrupted her.

In Karinna Moskalenko’s lawyer’s words, for NGOs two alternative courses of action are possible in relation to the inspections: either refuse to hand over the documents that are requested (as Ponomarev did); or act like Ludmila Alekseeva: "We’ll give them everything, let them sort it out! But we shall formally protest against this lawlessness."

Articles 21 and 22 of the Law on the Prosecutor’s Office state that there must be lawful grounds for any request to seize documents. Moreover, prosecutors must not trespass on the sphere of responsibility of the Ministry of Justice or the tax inspectorate. As Karinna Moskalenko pointed out: ‘Abuse of this right is evidence of arbitrariness.’

Those present were unanimous in saying: "The authorities are clearly planning a blitzkrieg! And there are no legal grounds at all for these inspections." Moreover, the law on non-profit organizations is being interpreted by the authorities to suit their own needs.

The NGOs have decided to conduct an independent investigation into the on-going ‘inspections,’ similar to the investigation into the events of 6 May 2012. The outcomes of the investigation will be published as a report setting out the violations that have been established.

Source: Olga Prosvirova, Novaya gazeta

The speeches of the participants in the press conference can be seen on video here.