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Memorial Human Rights Centre to appeal against prosecutors’ ‘Notice’

30 April 2013 

Source: (info
Memorial Human Rights Centre received a Notice from the Moscow city Prosecutor’s Office to the effect that in the course of one month the organization must eliminate ‘violations of federal law,’ that were allegedly identified during the inspection of the organization. In other words, Memorial must register as a ‘foreign agent.’ Memorial Human Rights Center does not intend to identify itself as a ‘foreign agent’ and will appeal against the prosecutor’s notice after careful study of the document. 

For some reason, the Prosecutor’s Office considers that the established mission of the organization – the publicizing of evidence of human rights and freedoms, uncovering the truth about the crimes of totalitarian regimes, about the terroristic methods of controlling society, the study of mass violations of human rights, promoting the protection of persons prosecuted for political reasons or unlawful repressions, and others. 

It is not clear where in these established purposes of Memorial Human Rights Centre the prosecutors found ‘violations.’ 

The inspectors paid special attention to the monitoring of politically motivated detentions on grounds of administrative violations and criminal politically motivated prosecutions. The phrase ‘Russian law does not provide for any crimes committed on political motives,’ is a real cry from the prosecutors’ soul. It isn’t provided for, and that means no such thing exists! Most of all the official Notice talks about the project OVD-info. OVD-info, which was created in December 2011 by a group of journalists, engages in the monitoring of political detentions and public events. 

According to OVD-info, hundreds of Russian media outlets use the materials of OVD-info in their own publications. The agency’s analytical materials provide the basis for a wide range of reports on freedom of assembly in Russia, including those by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Moscow Helsinki Group, and Agora Human Rights Association. 

OVD-info originated as an informal group, and from 1 February 2013 collaborates with Memorial Human Rights Centre on implementation of a project to monitor detentions of activists and members of the public in Russia’s regions. 

From its foundation OVD-info has stressed its non-political nature, and has not taken part in public protests or organized them. The allegation by the Prosecutor’s Office that the work of OVD-info in the framework of the Memorial project is linked with ‘holding public events and other political activity’ does not correspond with reality. 

Just as unfounded are other pieces of ‘evidence’ about the allegedly ‘political activity’ contained in the prosecutors’ Notice. Memorial Human Rights Centre does not intend to identify itself as a ‘foreign agent’ and will appeal against the prosecutors’ Notice after studying the document in detail. 

Earlier prosecutors had issued similar Notices to two regional Memorial organizations: Ryazan Memorial Society and Komi Memorial Human Rights Commission. 

The prosecutors’ Notice issued to the Ryazan Memorial indicates that, according to the charter of the non-profit organization, its main goals are ‘confirming the rights of the individual in government practice and in public life by means of influencing public opinion to build a democratic state in Russia based on the rule of law and the development of civil society.’ To achieve these goals, the organization can ‘hold rallies, assemblies, marches, demonstrations and so on in a manner established by law.’ 

The deputy prosecutor of the Komi Republic ruled that Komi Memorial Human Rights Commission, according to its charter, has as one of its goals participation in developing draft legislation, developing decisions by government bodies, the making of proposals and recommendations to government bodies in the area of protection of civic rights and freedoms, combating corruption, and arbitrary action by administrative bodies.’ 

The deputy prosecutor also stated that ‘members of the organization took part during 2011 and 2012 in public and political actions, including protests, for the purpose of influencing the decision-making of government bodies.’ 

This allowed the prosecutor to assert that the charter of the organization ‘practically declared the possibility of taking part in political activity.’ 

Since both organizations receive funding from abroad and neither has registered as a ‘non-profit organization with the functions of a foreign agent,’ regional prosecutors issued formal warnings to them that they must not violate the law. 

From the texts of these Notices, it is practically impossible to know what exactly the prosecutors want these NGOs to do. 

Attached file                                 Size 
Prosecutors’ Notice.pdf                 1.02 MB