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Krasnodar: Law enforcement agencies raid offices of “socially oriented” NGOs

18 March 2013 

Source: (info)
In Krasnodar region on 14th March 2013 “law enforcement personnel conducted mass visits to non-for-profit organizations” which had undertaken social projects in 2012 funded by Russian state-financed grants (competition-based support for socially oriented NGOs), according to Professor Mikhail Savva. Computers and documents were seized at a number of these organizations.

“The raids were based on suspicion of the possible misappropriation of state funds handed out on a competitive basis by the administration of Krasnodar region. They are said to be investigative measures involving the seizure of any item relevant to the investigation. It was not a search; no complaint was made against the organizations in which the seizure of items took place. The groups who confiscated these items and pieces of office equipment consisted of officers from several agencies,” reported Mikhail Savva in a declaration disseminated by the NGO ‘For Krasnodar’. 

Even aside from the lack of evidence that these NGOs had been involved in any illegal activity, and apart from the fact that no allegations had been made against them, the methods used by law enforcement personnel were, in a number of cases, improper, and raise some serious questions. I would like to emphasise, however, that there were some instances of proper conduct among the groups carrying out the investigations, but not by everybody, and not all the time.

The groups of inspectors took the following liberties:

– Entering the organizations without any form of document warranting the searches. When questioned about the basis of these inspections, they replied that agents of the public prosecutor’s office have the right to investigate any organization without any particular reason. At other times, they replied that the inspection was routine, though it does not appear on the investigation checklist. However, no computers were confiscated in these cases.

– Blocking the entrance to courtyards leading to the organizations’ offices with law enforcement cars, not permitting vehicles to enter or exit. This appeared to be less a simple confiscation of documents than a raid.

– Intimidating NGO staff, while documents and computers were being confiscated, with information on invented crimes which had allegedly been committed by these individuals. They also made statements about the crimes which clearly demonstrated the incompetence of the investigators themselves. I believe this to have been a method of psychologically pressurising the individuals targeted.

– Not allowing NGO staff to leave the rooms where the confiscations were taking place for prolonged periods of time, and forbidding them to use their personal mobile phones or to answer calls on the office telephone. In my opinion, this behaviour demonstrates a blatantly pre-conceived negative attitude in a number of cases towards the organizations affected by the raids. Of course investigations must be carried out, but this should be done within the parameters of the law and with due respect to the people involved. I call upon the members of the Public Council for Civil Society & Human Rights under the governor of Krasnodar region to include the issue of the observance of Russian law during inspections of non-for-profit organizations in Krasnodar region in the agenda for their next meeting, and I ask that representatives of the public prosecutor’s office and of the administration of Krasnodar region be invited to this meeting. I will be present at this session and will personally write the report – I have cancelled my business trip regarding the Russian-American working group on migration. There is no time to exchange experience when something like this happens at home.

I ask the organizations in Krasnodar Krai which were subjected to these illegal, improper inspections, which were carried out with the use of psychological pressure, to send me information about these incidents at the address

I am aware that they may have intimidated some of you.

I also fully understand that an officer in uniform is capable of putting a great deal of pressure on citizens at the moment.

However, our joint efforts are necessary in order to overturn a very serious threat. 

M.V. Savva
Deputy chair of the Public Council for Civil Society & Human Rights under the governor of Krasnodar region"