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St Petersburg: Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre to be prosecuted

30 April 2013 

Source: (info
A report on human rights presented to the United Nations has become the official grounds for prosecuting the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre as an NGO which should register as a ‘foreign agent’. In the ‘principles of banning use of torture’ the prosecutors found ‘appeals to enter into conflict with the authorities.’ The prosecutor of St. Petersburg Admiralty district believes that the report on human rights presented in November 2012 at a session of the UN Committee Against Torture contains ‘indications of appeals to enter into conflict with the current authorities and state structures.’ 

As evidence the prosecutor cites a series of quotations from the report ‘Roma, Migrants and Activists: Victims of Police Lawlessness.’ The first of these reads: ‘The principles of the ban on torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment, and also the minimizing of the use of police violence, are reflected in current Russian legislation’ (p. 9). 

Further, the prosecutor cites at considerable length the assessment by the human rights defenders of a series of police operations that violated the rights of Roma, instances of extortion and arbitrary violence against migrants, and also unlawful prosecution of a number of activists. The prosecutor considers that there were violations of the law in a number of recommendations contained in the report, such as ‘securing the safety of foreign citizens,’ guaranteeing ‘freedom of expression without risk of physical or psychological intimidation,’ and the repeal of regional laws banning ‘propaganda of homosexuality.’ 

Furthermore, the prosecutor found the work of the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre, which is profoundly imbued with human rights both in terms of its form and its content, in writing a report critical of the Russian authorities and calling for compliance with Russian and international law, and presenting this position to the UN Committee Against Torture, to be in violation of the law. It is absurd to conclude that the preparation of alternative reports on compliance with UN conventions ratified by the Russian Federation and presenting them to the relevant UN committees is a violation of the law. After all, complying with international obligations in the sphere of combating police abuse includes the presentation, in addition to the official report, of an assessment of the situation in this sphere by civil society and professional human rights defenders. 

On the basis of the analysis of the report, ‘Roma, Migrants and Activists: Victims of Police Lawlessness' printed in 100 copies for distribution at a session of the UN Committee Against Torture on 8-12 November 2012 and published on the website of the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre and on the website of the UN committee, the prosecutor concluded that the actions of Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre ‘contain indications of violations of administrative law under Article 19.34, Sections 1 & 2, of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation.’ 

The prosecutor’s Notice №35-88-2013 charging Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre with the alleged violations of administrative law and a similar Notice charging the director, O. A. Abramenko, signed by Prosecutor A. G. Yurasov, was issued on 30 April 2013 at 12.40 and literally one hour laterwas delivered by assistant prosecutor D. I. Smirnov to the office of the organization. Having read the notice, O. A. Abramenko said that she disagreed with the conclusions reached by the prosecutor, and that she would explain her position in court. 

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Notice from the Prosecutor’s Office to Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre.pdf         2.88 MB