Sociologists speak out in support of Levada Centre

29 May 2013 

Source: (info)
A group of Russian sociologists has published an open letter to the General Prosecutor and the chair of the Constitutional Court about the actions of prosecutors against Russian NGOs. The social scientists ask that the inspections of non-profit organizations by the law enforcement agencies should themselves be subject to review.

"These actions that began as inspections into the degree of compliance with the notorious law on ‘foreign agents’ has taken on the character of harassment of NGOs conducting research into public opinion and social and political processes in Russian society. In practice, the classification of sociological research as ‘political activity’ by the law enforcement agencies on the alleged grounds that the publication of the results influences public opinion, is turning into a ban on professional work in the field of social research and analysis where the organization concerned receives any funding from foreign sources. In this interpretation of the given law, which in itself evokes unpleasant associations with the situation of all-pervading fear and suspicion on the eve of the Second World War, we see, firstly, cynicism – because for many reasons in Russian contemporary society there are not very many sources of funding that are independent of the government budget for generally expensive research projects; and secondly, stupidity - because having forced our colleagues to stop their research, the authorities will find themselves with inadequate sources of information,” the authors of the open letter write.

The full text of the letter has been published on a website created in support of the Levada Centre. The appeal is open for signing.