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Hearing of appeal by Ryazan Memorial against Prosecutor’s Office to continue on 16 October

25 September 2013 

Source: (info)
The hearing of an appeal by Ryazan Memorial Society commenced on 25 September 2013 in the Sovetsky district court in the city of Ryazan. Ryazan Memorial is demanding that a warning issued by Ryazan regional Prosecutor's Office following an inspection of its activities be recognised as illegal and cancelled. 

Ryazan Memorial has been represented by three lawyers: Aleksandr Zarutsky and Petr Ivanov (of the Ryazan Memorial Society) and senior lawyer of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Moscow, Furkat Tishaev. Acting on behalf of the regional Prosecutor's Office has been senior public prosecutor of the Department for Oversight of Compliance with Federal Legislation, A. I. Khorynzhy. The case is being heard by Judge O. N. Zhavoronkova.

In April 2013 Ryazan region Prosecutor's Office conducted an inspection of the activities of Ryazan Memorial in terms of "compliance with the law on extremism". No violations in the organisation's activities were found as a result of the inspection. Nevertheless, the warning issued following the inspection made particular reference to the fact that the organisation's charter stipulates the right of Ryazan Memorial to participate in decision-making by government authorities, as well as the right to hold rallies and demonstrations, and so on, "in accordance with current legislation". The prosecutor's office concluded on the basis of these clauses in the charter that the document "effectively affirms the feasibility of participating in political activity" and served the organisation with a warning that it would not be permissible to carry out such activities before being included in the register of non-profit organisations acting as a foreign agent. 
Memorial's lawyers: Petr Ivanov, Furkat Tishaev, Aleksandr Zarutsky (photo: Natalya Brikker). 

During the previous court session, counsel for the defence articulated the organisation's position that at the time of the inspection the Prosecutor's Office had no evidence of an impending violation that would serve as legal grounds for delivering a warning and, consequently, that the Prosecutor's Office had acted without justification. The lawyers stressed that the activities contained in the clauses of the organisation's charter referred to in the document by the Prosecutor's Office were intended to facilitate the implementation of Russian legislation and observance of human rights and thus cannot be regarded as "political activity". 

Memorial’s representatives pointed to the ambiguous and contradictory language contained in the warning, which violates the principle of legal certainty as set out in a ruling by the Russian Supreme Court.

Furkat Tishaev also drew the court's attention to the fact that the document served by the Prosecutor's Office violates the rights of the organisation and is contrary to the provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the position of the European Court of Human Rights. The lawyer also applied to have the opinion of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights on the "NGO-foreign agents" law admitted as evidence.

After the position of Ryazan Memorial had been put forward, the judge directed clarifying questions to the parties, after which the representative of the Prosecutor's Office asked that the hearing be postponed on the basis of the need to explore the new arguments voiced by Memorial's representatives.

This application was granted by the court.

The trial on the merits of the case will continue on 16 October 2013 in the Ryazan’s Sovetsky district court. The session will begin at 11 o'clock.

Further information can be obtained from the press office of Ryazan Memorial Society:
Natalya Brikker, Tel.: +8 906 646 82 12, e-mail:

Outside Sovetsky district court in Ryazan: Vladimir Sivakov (Memorial), Olga Muzyka (Observer at the Operational Response Centre for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders), Andrei Blinushov, Petr Ivanov, Furkat Tishaev, Nikolai Sereda and Aleksandr Zarutsky (Memorial). Photo: Natalya Brikker.