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Administrative charges brought against Lev Ponomarev as a result of NGO inspections

29 March 2013 

Source: (info)
Three charges have been brought against human rights defender Lev Ponomarev in relation to alleged violations of administrative law, Interfax reports citing an official representative of the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office, Elena Rossokhina.

The charges have been brought under Article 17.7 of the Administrative Code (failure to fulfill the lawful demands of a prosecutor), for which the punishment is a fine of up to 3,000 roubles. Ponomarev is accused to having failed to hand materials relating to three non-profit organizations which he heads for inspection: the Foundation for Protection of Prisoners’ Rights, the Movement For Human Rights and Hotline for Promoting Human Rights.

Prosecutors demanded that Ponomarev hand over the documents on 25 March. However, as the human rights defender explained to RIA Novosti, he refused to hand them over since recently all three organizations had already been inspected. "Therefore to paralyze the work of three organizations when we have already done all this, I believe, would not be right,’ Ponomarev said.

The human rights defender has appealed against the actions of the prosecutors to Zamoskvoretsky district court, reports. Moreover, he has sent a statement to the deputy prosecutor of Moscow Aleksei Zakharov, on the grounds that he suspects the mass inspections of NGOs are ‘politically motivated’. "As leader of the three human rights organization, I am obliged to resist the intimidation of NGOs,’ Ponomarev said.

The mass inspections of Russian NGOs (according to Agora Human Rights Association, more than 90 NGOs in 24 regions have been inspected) began on 21 March. Among those inspected have been Memorial, Amnesty International, Public Verdict, Civic Assistance and the Moscow offices of Human Rights Watch and Transparency International.

The Ministry of Justice explained the necessity of the inspections by the need to establish which organizations must be registered as ‘foreign agents’. At present not one NGO has been registered as such.