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Public Verdict Foundation prosecuted for refusing to label itself a 'foreign agent'

posted 26 Nov 2015, 05:53 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 26 Nov 2015, 05:57 ]

23 November 2015

Source: (info)
Public Verdict Foundation has received a letter from the department of Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media) for the Central Federal District, in which the department notifies the human rights activists that it ‘has ascertained’ that the Public Verdict Foundation has ‘distributed’ publications without labelling itself as a ‘foreign agent’, which, under Article 19.34 (Section 2) of the RF Administrative Code, it is obliged to do. The organization faces the threat of a fine of up to half a million roubles.

Four news items from Public Verdict’s official site are cited as evidence of the Foundation’s ‘illegal’ activity. One item (‘The Supreme Court of the Kabardno-Balkaria republic upholds the sentencing of a police officer for beating juveniles’) reports on a sentence relating to a police officer from Foundation’s case load. Another relates to the award of a prestigious international award to the director of the Public Verdict Foundation, Natalya Taubina, who became a laureate of the 32nd annual Robert F Kennedy award for the defence of human rights. The award ceremony was on 19th November. The news item ‘Moscow city court did not permit Public Verdict to exercise its right of defence’ reports on the continuing and drawn out battle by the Foundation as it contests the status of ‘foreign agent’. Similarly, in Roskomnadzor’s view, another item on the Foundation’s website (‘The Perm resident, whose husband died from police torture known as “the swallow”, is claiming 3.5 million roubles compensation from the state’) infringes the law on foreign agents.

It is interesting that the letter from Roskomnadzor was posted to Public Verdict on 12 November, while the Foundation’s leadership, according to Roskomnadzor, were to have been present in the agency’s office for the drawing up of an official notification on 13th November. The postal service delivered the letter only on 17th. Now the activists expect to receive both the official notification and a court summons. The Ministry of Justice is also, at the present time, carrying out its planned inspection of the organization.

Once it has received official notification of the alleged infringements of the Administrative Code, Public Verdict intends to challenge Roskomnadzor’s claims in court.

The law on ‘foreign agents’ came into existence on 20 November 2012. As of 23 November 2015 104 organizations were on the ‘foreign agent’ register, five of their own volition, and 99 against their will by the Ministry of Justice. Starting in the summer of 2015 organizations began to be fined for not including the label ‘foreign agent’ on their published materials. 300,000 roubles, judging by practice, has been the minimum ‘price’ charged for not using the label. A fine of that amount is imposed for each publication that appears without making reference to the organization’s status as a ‘foreign agent’. As of 9 November 2015 11 organizations have been taken off the ‘foreign agents’ register because they have gone into liquidation.

For more information about the campaign against NGOs and Public Verdict Foundation, click HERE.

Translated by Mary McAuley 

Ministry of Justice drops allegation that Memorial Human Rights Centre 'undermines the Constitutional order'

posted 25 Nov 2015, 11:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 25 Nov 2015, 11:22 ]

23 November 2015

Source: (info)
The Ministry of Justice’s warning to Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow) no longer contains the allegation that it undermines the constitutional order,  Kommersant newspaper reports. According to the report, Ministry of Justice officials are now only demanding the removal of some formal details from the NGO’s statutes, partly in order to reflect the provisions of the new Civil Code. 

Memorial Human Rights Centre (HRC) commented that the complaints against its statutes include several unjustified and excessive demands. “The Ministry of Justice wants virtually the whole of the Civil Code to be included in our statutes, which is a problem not only for NGOs but for all legal entities”, said Aleksander Cherkasov, who chairs Memorial HRC’s board. 
On 9 November 2015 it transpired that two officials based at the Ministry of Justice Moscow headquarters, G.A. Aloyan and P.V. Cheremnov, accused Memorial HRC in their official inspection report of “undermining the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, calling for the overthrow of the government and a change of the country’s political regime”.

These dreadful accusations gave rise to public indignation both in Russia and abroad. Russian academics, the PEN Centre, the Free Historical Society, and Russian and foreign human rights defenders issued special statements on the subject. Arseny Roginsky, chair of the board of the International Memorial Society and a well-known historian, wrote an open letter to the Justice Minister, General Konovalov, in which he stressed that '[...] Ministry of Justice officials believe that making statements critical of the government constitutes "undermining the basis of constitutional order" and "calling for the overthrow of the government." This "legal" logic doesn’t only recall Soviet times, when dissent was equated to undermining the Socialist order - it takes us straight back to that era [...].' 

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, expressed his disquiet about the accusations against Moscow’s Memorial Human Rights Centre, stating: 'These accusations are particularly worrying in that they classify the ordinary work of NGOs as a serious criminal offence.' He called on the Russian government to stop its harassment of human rights activists, including Memorial. Jagland also restated the necessity of revising Russian legislation on NGOs, including with regard to so-called ‘foreign agent’ NGOs.

Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts

Russian scholars urge Minister of Justice Konovalov to reconsider report on Memorial Human Rights Centre

posted 23 Nov 2015, 03:50 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 23 Nov 2015, 04:04 ]

19 November 2015

Source: (info)
To: the Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation A. V. Konovalov

Dear Minister

Both in the press and in social media an official report produced by one of the departments of your Ministry relating to an inspection of the non-governmental organization Memorial Human Rights Centre is being widely discussed. The text of the report, which we have, contains the following specific statement: 'By their activities, members of the Memorial Human Rights Centre have undermined the foundations of the Russian Federation’s Constitutional order by calling for the overthrow of the existing authorities, and for a change in the political regime in the country.'

We, the undersigned Russian scholars and journalists, consider that a statement as serious as this must be based on no less serious evidence. However, in acquainting ourselves with the text of the official report, we have not found a single example of an activity by Memorial Human Rights Centre, which would enable such a conclusion to be drawn.

The accusations contained in the report, produced in the name of your Ministry, that Memorial Human Rights Centre has engaged in 'calling for the overthrow of the existing authorities, for a change in the political regime in the country' are based on a statement that 'the given organization is actively engaged in political activity aimed at creating a negative view among the public of government policy emanating from the highest organs of the State; it voices its disagreement with decisions and actions of the above mentioned Authorities, and with the results of the preliminary investigation and verdicts of the courts in widely known criminal cases, as can be seen in the examples, details of which are given below.'

As examples, we are given the reproduction on the website of Memorial Human Rights Centre of an appeal to the President of the Russian Federation by another organization, the International Memorial Society, relating to actions of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, and also to a statement on the same site which disputes the results of the investigation and verdicts in the so-called Bolotnaya Square trials.

All the above, and the other facts relating to the activities of the Memorial Human Rights Centre listed in the text of the report that we have seen, are inalienable rights of citizens of the Russian Federation, guaranteed by Articles 29, 32 and 33 of the Constitution and, accordingly, cannot be considered to be undermining the constitutional order. This also applies to calls 'for regime change' which are perfectly legal if they are not accompanied by 'propaganda or agitation, provoking social, racial, national or religious hatred and enmity': after all the Constitution allows for peaceful change of the existing regime by means of voting in elections. Nor can there be any doubt of the legality of citizens and their organizations expressing their disagreement with decisions made by organs of the state, or with court verdicts, let alone with the results of preliminary investigations. The right of the freedom of expression is guaranteed by Articles 29 and 33 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

The report of the inspection produced in the name of your Ministry contains not a single example of a call by Memorial Human Rights Centre for the overthrow (i.e. with the use of force) of the existing order.

Thus we see neither factual nor legal grounds for the extremely serious claims that the Memorial Human Rights Centre is ‘undermining the Constitutional order of the Russian Federation’ and ‘calling for overthrowing the existing authorities’.

Moreover we consider that the aforesaid report report creates a dangerous precedent: it equates criticism of the authorities with the undermining of the constitutional order. In our view, the implementation in practice of such a claim would infringe the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, which are upheld both in the Russian Federation’s Constitution and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in the European Convention on Human Rights and Basic Freedoms. We are of the opinion that it is not the activities of Memorial Human Rights Centre, but rather the potential implementation of the conclusions of the official report, that could lead to 'undermining the foundations of the Constitutional order of the Russian Federation.’

We demand a thorough review of the aforesaid report for its compliance with the Constitution and those international agreements to which Russia is a party. We request you to abstain from taking any decisions, based on that report, until such a review has been completed, and to inform the Russian public of its results.

Signatures may be sent to:

Please provide higher degree qualification, place of work, position.

Signatories are also being collected HERE
List of signatories as of 18 November 2015:

Ахметова Мария Вячеславовна, к.филол.н., РАНХиГС, снс
Базыкин Георгий Александрович, к.б.н., ИППИ РАН, зав. сектором
Беленкина Нина Михайловна, издательство "Наука"
Бершицкий Сергей Юрьевич, д.б.н., Институт иммунологии и физиологии УрО РАН
Бирюков Дмитрий Сергеевич, к.филос.н., СПбГУАП
Борисов Николай Михайлович, д.т.н., НИЦ "Курчатовский институт", ведущий научный сотрудник
Воробейчик Евгений Леонидович, д.б.н., Институт экологии растений и животных УрО РАН, заместитель директора
Гельфанд Михаил Сергеевич, д.б.н., профессор, член Academia Europaea зам. директора, ИППИ РАН, профессор МГУ
Гинзбург Илья Файвильевич, д.ф. -м.н., проф. Институт математики СО РАН, Новосибирск, гл.н.с. и Новосибирский госуниверситет, проф.
Горбунов Михаил Юрьевич, к.б.н., Институт экологии Волжского бассейна РАН
Гусев Алексей Викторович, к.и.н., МГУ им. М.В. Ломоносова, доцент
Демина Наталия Валентиновна, магистр математики, научный журналист "Полит.ру", член редсовета газеты "Троицкий вариант — Наука"
Долгин Борис Семенович, научный редактор "Полит.ру"
Дорожкин Сергей Вениаминович, к.х.н.
Дробышев Юлий Иванович, к.б.н., ИПЭЭ РАН
Жуйков Борис Леонидович, д.хим.н., Институт ядерных исследований РАН
Звонкин Дмитрий Александрович, кандидат математических наук, CNRS (Париж)
Иванов Алексей Викторович, д.г. -м.н., и.о. рук. ЦКП, Институт земной коры СО РАН, Иркутск
Кондрашов Федор Алексеевич, PhD, Заведующий лабораторией, Центр Геномной Регуляции
Кубасова Наталия Алексеевна, д.ф. -м.н., НИИ механики МГУ
Лидский Петр Владимирович, к.б.н., Университет Калифорнии, Сан-Франциско, научный сотрудник
Лутаенко Константин Анатольевич, к.б.н., ИБМ ДВО РАН, зав. лаб.
Медведев Эмиль Самуилович, д.ф. -м.н., ИРХФ РАН, гнс
Мелькумянц Артур Маркович, д.б.н., проф. РКНПК МЗ РФ, в.н.с.
Насретдинова Венера Фатиховна, к.ф. -м.н., м.н.с. ИРЭ РАН
Неретина Светлана Сергеевна, д.филос.н., Институт философии РАН
Нестеров Антон Викторович, к. филол. н., МГЛУ, доцент
Онищенко Евгений Евгеньевич, Физический институт им.П.Н.Лебедева РАН, научный сотрудник
Оскольский Алексей Асафьевич, д.б.н. Ботанический институт им. В.Л. Комарова, в.н.с.
Пшеничнов Игорь Анатольевич, д.ф. -м.н., Институт ядерных исследований РАН, в.н.с.
Рекубратский Александр Витальевич, к.б.н., ВНИИ пресноводного рыбного хозяйства, вед. научн. сотр.
Сигалова Ольга Михайловна, ИППИ РАН, аспирант
Слепухина Ирина Ароновна, ЕМУП МОАП, начальник службы информационных технологий
Соломина Ольга Николаевна, чл. -корр.РАН, д.геогр.н., зам.директора ИГРАН
Стаф Ирина Карловна к.филол.н., ИМЛИ РАН, с.н.с.
Тамм Михаил Владимирович, к. ф. -м. н., с.н.с. физического факультета МГУ, доцент НИУ ВШЭ
Утехин Илья Владимирович, к.и.н., профессор ф-та антропологии Европейского университета в СПб
Федченко Валентина Владимировна, к.ф.н., доцент
Фогельсон Юрий Борисович, д.ю.н., адвокат
Фрадков Александр Львович, д.т.н., профессор ИПМаш РАН, зав.лаб.
Хантемиров Рашит Мигатович, д.б.н., Институт экологии растений и животных УрО РАН, в.н.с.
Хачатурян Александр Вячеславович, гимназия 1543, учитель
Цатурян Андрей Кимович, д.ф. -м.н., МГУ, в.н.с.
Цирлина Галина Александровна, д.х.н., профессор Химический факультет МГУ, профессор
Чеботарев Павел Юрьевич, д.ф. -м.н. ИПУ РАН, гнс
Чеботарёва Альбина Николаевна, к.техн.н., пенсионерка
Шустин Евгений Германович, д.ф. -м.н., ФИРЭ им. В.А. Котельникова РАН, г.н.с.
Яблонский Леонид Тодорович, д.истор.н., профессор ИА РАН, зав. оделом

Source: Тroitsky variant Nauka

Translated by Mary McAuley

Memorial recognises Bagir Kazikhanov as a political prisoner, sentenced for reading the books of Said Nursi

posted 20 Nov 2015, 10:34 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Nov 2015, 10:42 ]

5 November 2015

Source: (info)
Bagir Kazikhanov, a Muslim from Ulyanovsk, was sentenced under Article 282.2 (Section 2) of the Russian Criminal Code (Organising the activity of a banned religious society) to 3.5 years in a general-regime colony. According to the investigation and court, he created a cell of the religious society Nurdzhular, banned in Russia, in Ulyanovsk on the basis of studying Turkish theologian Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1877-1960), who expressed himself in a cycle of commentaries on the Koran “Risale-i Nur” (“Treatises of Light”). 

Within the framework of this trial Alexander Melentyev and Stepan Kudryashov received suspended sentences under Article 282.2 (Section 2) of the Russian Criminal Code (Participating in the activity of a banned religious society) – two years and one year and eight months respectively.

Kazikhanov has been in custody since April 10, 2014, in October 2014 he was transferred to house arrest, and after the sentence on February 25, 2015 he was again taken into custody. “Memorial believes that the prosecution of followers of Said Nursi is exclusively connected with their religious convictions and non-violent use of their right to freedom of thought and conscience, and that the investigation’s claims about the creation by Kazikhanov of a cell of the banned extremist organisation Nurdzhular in Ulyanovsk are baseless.”

Above all, to this day no evidence has been presented that this organisation exists anywhere in the world (and in Russia it was banned by a court). The word Nurdzhular means followers of Nursi, but they do not form a hierarchical organised community. The term is was also used by the Turkish authorities 70 years ago for a groundless prosecution of Nursi himself. Subsequently all charges against the theologian were dropped, and currently his books are recognised by official figures in Turkey as a valuable cultural legacy.

Evidence in favour of the existence of Nurdzhular, or in general in favour of the fact that Kazikhanov created any kind of extremist organisation, does not stand up to any criticism. The only convincing part of the case is the fact of collective reading of the books of Said Nursi, which does not amount to the incidence of a criminal act, even if distributing the texts is banned in Russia.

Fourteen translations of Nursi were banned by a decision of the Koptevsky district court of Moscow in 2007, but we find the arguments of the analyses on which the court bases itself to be absurd sometimes. In the religious literature the experts found a condemnation of sinners (and even self-condemnation of a repentant person) and the scaring of atheists – and on that basis came to the conclusion that the texts were extremist. 

The Council of Muftis of Russia, the Central Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Russia and the Sova Information and Analytical Centre have said that the works of Nursi are harmless for society and do not contain propaganda of violence, and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has called for the decision on banning them to be re-examined. We do not find any reason to prosecute people who read, including collectively, the books of Said Nursi, apart from the desire of the law-enforcement bodies to create the illusion of a battle with organised extremism by inventing the extremism. Memorial demands the immediate release of Bagir Kazikhanov and the rehabilitation of him and the other defendants in his case, and also an end to bans on religious literature that does not propagandise violence. 

Recognising a person as a political prisoner does not mean that the Memorial human rights centre agrees with the views and statements of the person recognised as a political prisoner, or that it approves of their statements or actions.

More detail on the case of Bagir Kazikhanov can be read here.

Translated by Memorial Human Rights Centre

Chair of the board of International Memorial Society Roginsky writes to Minister of Justice Konovalov

posted 20 Nov 2015, 06:58 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Nov 2015, 08:07 ]

19 November 2015

Source: (info)
Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation
Aleksandr Vladimirovich Konovalov

Dear Minister!

The deep perplexity I feel as a result of the actions of your subordinates obliges me to write to you.

In October this year the Directorate of the Ministry of Justice for Moscow conducted a regular inspection of the Memorial Human Rights Centre. This organization is a member of the International Memorial Society, whose board I have the honour of heading.

The official document containing the conclusions of the inspection (№77/03-47960, dated 30 October 2015) is largely concerned with indicating the need for changes to the organization's articles of association related to the amendments to the Civil Code of recent years. There is nothing unexpected in this, and it had been planned to make the necessary changes at the next regular meeting of the organization's general assembly. Our colleagues from Memorial Human Rights Centre will appeal, in line with established legal procedures, against a number of other points raised in the document.

Against the background of these routine points, the conclusion contained on pages 10-11 of the document is quite astonishing: "By their actions the members of Memorial Human Rights Centre have undermined the foundations of the Constitutional order of Russia, calling for the overthrow of the current government and a change of political regime in the country."

The officials from the Ministry of Justice base this extraordinary accusation on a number of assessments and conclusions publicly expressed by Memorial:
  • The assertion (29.08.2014) that Russian military service personnel were taking a direct part in the armed conflict in the east of Ukraine, and that the actions of Russia against Ukraine come under the definition of aggression as laid down in the resolution of the UN General Assembly dated 14 December 1974; 
  • disagreement (24.02.2014) with what, in the view of Memorial, are unlawful convictions in the Bolotnaya Square trials. 
So we see that, in the view of officials from the Ministry of Justice, the expression of a critical opinion regarding the actions of the authorities is ‘undermining the foundations of the Constitutional order’ and ‘calls for overthrow’ of the government. 

'Legal' logic of this kind is not only reminiscent of Soviet times, when dissidence was equated with undermining the socialist order, but directly returns us to that period.

The Constitution of the Russian Federation guarantees freedom of thought and expression, the search for, access to, and dissemination of information (Article 29) and the right of association (Article 30). My colleagues from the Memorial Human Rights Centre, in setting out facts discovered in the course of their human rights work, and publicly expressing the views and assessments to which they had come, are putting into practice rights guaranteed by the Constitution. But the language used by the Ministry of Justice in the document containing the conclusions of the inspection of Memorial Human Rights Centre is nothing other than than an attempt to restrict constitutional rights and freedoms, something which is directly forbidden by the Constitution. Whether it is by oversight or by ill intent that your subordinates are doing this, I do not know. 

Moreover, as a result either of the haste of the authors of this document, or of their lack of impartiality, the document contains a number of evident inaccuracies. For example, statements assigned to Memorial Human Rights Centre that were in fact made by the International Memorial Society, a quite separate organization. But indeed, this is, of course, a minor issue in comparison with the political charges referred to above.

Dear Minister! I appeal to you to withdraw the conclusions of the inspection of Memorial Human Rights Centre of 30 October 2015 (at least in so far as concerns the absurd political charges) and conduct an internal investigation into how a document with such language could enter the public domain. Conclusions of inspections of this kind are not only damaging to the civil society organizations concerned. They undermine public trust in the Ministry which you lead. And most important of all, they undermine trust in the Constitution. And that is dangerous.

Your sincerely,
A.B. Roginsky,
Chair of the board International Memorial Society

Translated by Simon Cosgrove

Statement by members of the Free Historical Society and the Russian PEN Centre on charges against Memorial Human Rights Centre

posted 20 Nov 2015, 04:56 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Nov 2015, 04:59 ]

13 November 2015

Source: (info)
On 9 November, the Interregional NGO Memorial Human Rights Centre received a document setting out the findings of the scheduled audit that had previously been carried out by the General Directorate of the Ministry of Justice in Moscow. This document contains the claim that, “through their actions, the members of the Interregional NGO Memorial Human Rights Centre have undermined the foundations of constitutional order in the Russian Federation.”

In reality, however, the document itself poses a clear threat to the foundations of constitutional order in the Russian Federation, which as a state guarantees each of its citizens the freedom to express their opinions and beliefs. The document issued by the Ministry of Justice is an explicit denial of Article 29 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which sets out fundamental safeguards for the human rights and civil liberties of the people of Russia.

The document accuses the members of the Memorial Human Rights Centre of having, “called for the overthrow of the current government and a change of political regime in the country.” The Ministry of Justice experts back up this absurd claim with a reference to two articles published on Memorial Human Rights Centre’s official website, one of which contains a negative assessment of Russia’s actions against Ukraine in 2014, and the other of which expresses disagreement with the ruling of Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky district court in the “Bolotnaya Square case”.

The members of the Free Historical Society and the Russian PEN Centre wish to remind the Ministry of Justice officials that the freedom to express one’s opinions and beliefs – which may involve criticising the decisions and actions of “senior state authorities” – is a constitutional right held by the citizens of Russia. Neither the Constitution of the Russian Federation nor the country’s laws grant officials the power to control the way in which citizens express their opinions on any grounds whatsoever, or the prerogative to take decisions based on the opinion these citizens hold of the ruling government.

The findings published by the Ministry of Justice officials in respect of the NGO represent political demands which are unlawful and cannot remain without consequence. It is particularly regrettable that the organisation which is facing the threat of political persecution was set up in order to help the citizens of Russia assert their constitutional rights and freedoms and gather and examine information on illegal political repression.

The members of the Free Historical Society and the Russian PEN centre wish to express their support for and solidarity with their colleagues from the Interregional NGO Memorial Human Rights Centre and their defence of our shared right to freedom of thought and speech.

The members of the Free Historical Society and the Russian PEN centre also wish to express their dismay at the increasing disregard for political freedom in our country, which gives rise to a situation in which phrases such as those cited above can be used in official documents issued by federal government bodies.

The members of the Free Historical Society and the Russian PEN Centre call for an immediate response by the heads of the Ministry of Justice and senior state officials repudiating the anti-constitutional charges set out in the findings of the General Directorate of the Ministry of Justice for Moscow.

12 November 2015

Translated by Joanne Reynolds

Signatories [in Russian]:
Михаил Айзенберг,
Юз Алешковский,
Максим Амелин,
Евгений Анисимов,
Ирина Аржанцева,
Александр Архангельский,
Дмитрий Бавильский,
Нуне Барсегян,
Ирина Балахонова,
Леонид Бахнов
Михаил Берг,
Владимир Бобровников,
Татьяна Бонч-Осмоловская,
Алла Боссарт,
Ольга Варшавер,
Владимир Ведерников,
Алексей Вигасин,
Алина Витухновская,
Марина Вишневецкая,
Борис Вишневский,
Владимир Войнович,
Андрей Волос,
Татьяна Вольтская,
Олег Воскобойников,
Сергей Гандлевский,
Алиса Ганиева,
Александр Гельман,
Анатолий Голубовский,
Катерина Гордеева,
Варвара Горностаева,
Юлий Гуголев,
Михаил Давыдов,
Игорь Данилевский,
Борис Долгин,
Вероника Долина,
Александр Долинин,
Денис Драгунский,
Ольга Дробот,
Анна Дыбо,
Виктор Дятлов,
Евгений Ермолин,
Виктор Есипов,
Георгий Ефремов,
Виктория Журавлева,
Сергей Завьялов,
Сергей Зенкин
Сергей Иванов
Наталья Иванова,
Аскольд Иванчик,
Александр Иличевский,
Ольга Ильницкая,
Игорь Иртеньев,
Геннадий Калашников,
Леонид Кацва,
Бахыт Кенжеев,
Борис Колоницкий,
Николай Кононов,
Александр Кравецкий,
Михаил Кром,
Максим Кронгауз,
Григорий Кружков,
Александр Кубышкин,
Алексей Кузнецов,
Илья Кукулин,
Иван Курилла,
Игорь Курукин,
Майя Кучерская,
Александр Лавров,
Ирина Левинская,
Ольга Малинова,
Александр Молдован,
Константин Морозов,
Алексей Моторов,
Светлана Мулина,
Геннадий Николаев,
Петр Образцов,
Александр Панченко,
Дмитрий Панченко
Сергей Пархоменко,
Григорий Пасько,
Григорий Петухов,
Александр Подосинов,
Николай Подосокорский,
Владимир Рабинович,
Давид Раскин,
Арсений Рогинский,
Борис Рогинский,
Михаил Рожанский,
Ольга Романова,
Лев Рубинштейн,
Александр Рубцов
Ольга Седакова,
Адриан Селин
Игорь Сид,
Евгений Сидоров,
Борис Соколов,
Михаил Соколов,
Никита Соколов,
Наталия Соколовская,
Владимир Сорокин,
Владимир Сотников,
Татьяна Сотникова (Анна Берсенева),
Сергей Стратановский,
Ирина Сурат,
Татьяна Толстая
Анатолий Турилов,
Федор Успенский,
Борис Херсонский,
Михаил Холмогоров
Елена Холмогорова,
Андрей Чернов,
Елена Чижова,
Григорий Чхартишвили (Борис Акунин)
Сергей Чупринин,
Виктор Шнирельман,
Глеб Шульпяков,
Татьяна Щербина,
Михаил Эпштейн,
Сергей Эрлих,
Александр Эткинд,
Борис Юдин,
Виктор Ярошенко

Justice Ministry accuses Memorial Human Rights Centre of undermining foundations of Russia’s constitutional order

posted 17 Nov 2015, 11:05 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Nov 2015, 11:12 ]

10 November 2015

Source: (info)
Statement by the chair of the Board of Memorial Human Rights Centre Aleksandr Vladimirovich Cherkasov 

* * *

On November 9 the Memorial Human Rights Centre received in the post the results of the “Act of Planned Inspection” of our organisation. The inspection from October 5 was conducted by the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation for the city of Moscow. In this “Act” the Justice Ministry, among other things, puts forward a political accusation addressed to our organisation: “By their actions the members of the InterRegional Non-Governmental Organisation the Memorial human rights centre have undermined the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, by calling for the overthrow of the current government and a change of the political regime in the country.”

What kind of “actions” are these? What do you have to do to incur such serious accusations?

It turns out that Memorial “undermines the foundations” by forming a negative public opinion “about the state policy that is being conducted by the higher bodies of state government, expresses disagreement with the decisions and actions of the mentioned institutions of government, the results of preliminary investigations and court verdicts that have been given in high-profile criminal cases”.

We work. In the course of our human rights work we gather facts. On their basis, in the course of discussions within the organisation and in a wider circle we develop opinions and evaluations. We publish these materials – evaluations, opinions, factual materials and so on.

Thus we implement freedom of thought and speech and freedom of association, which are guaranteed to us by articles 28 and 30 of the Constitution of Russia. And we do not consider it appropriate to be silent if we see that representatives of the government – including the highest Russian authorities – are violating human rights and the norms of international law.

This, from the point of view of the Justice Ministry, is “forming a negative opinion” and “undermining the foundations”.

Since as examples of “undermining activity” the “Act” gives, firstly, our evaluation of Russia’s actions towards Ukraine. We indeed think that these actions come under the definition of aggression – in full accordance with the UN definition.

Secondly, we are accused of publishing “the opinion of leaders of organisations” about the fact that Russian troops have participated in combat actions in eastern Ukraine. But this “opinion” is also based on a multitude of irrefutable facts.

Thirdly, the Justice Ministry is upset by our disagreement with the unjust verdict given in the Bolotnaya case. Indeed, in our materials and in the materials of other human rights organisations, and in media reports, there is a multitude of proof that the charge in this case was fabricated and falsified.

That is it. But where are the calls to “overthrow the current government” here, which the creators of the “Act” immediately accuse us of? Obviously the Justice Ministry equates criticism of the government with attempts to overthrow it.

The Justice Ministry’s “Act of Inspection” which accuses us of “undermining” reports about political prisoners is dated October 30, the Day of Political Prisoners in the USSR.

The prosecutors’ understanding”, which incriminates the Memorial human rights centre for maintaining a list of political prisoners and a register of people detained at demonstrations, on the basis of which we were included on the “register of foreign agents”, was given to us on April 30, 2013. On the 45th birthday of the dissident “Chronicle of Current Events”, which wrote about judicial and extra-judicial political repressions.

Symbolic coincidences.

Since the Justice Ministry’s “Act” itself directly returns us to the times of the Soviet government’s battle against dissidents.

It is probably worth recalling the Constitution of Russia, the section “Foundations of Constitutional Order”, article 2: “The person and his rights and freedoms are the highest value. Recognising, observing and defending the rights and freedoms of the person and citizen are a duty of the state.” And then everything falls into place. It becomes obvious: it is not we, Memorial, but the Justice Ministry that is undermining the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation by its actions.

This translation by Memorial Human Rights Centre is republished here by kind permission

Statement by Council of Human Rights Defenders: 'We are Memorial'

posted 16 Nov 2015, 02:35 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Nov 2015, 09:36 ]

10 November 2015

Source: (info
We are Memorial

On the basis of an inspection the Ministry of Justice has brought a number of political charges against Memorial Human Rights Centre: "By their actions Memorial Human Rights Centre has undermined the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, calling for the overthrow of the current authorities and a change of the political regime in the country."

The ruling by the Ministry describes how the activities of Memorial Human Rights Centre undermine the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation. To be exact, “Memorial expresses disagreement with the decisions and activities of government bodies, with the results of preliminary investigations and court judgments in high-profile criminal cases.”

The ruling cites three examples of “undermining activities” allegedly carried out by Memorial Human Rights Centre: their assessment of Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine, the opinion of the organisation’s leadership on the issue of Russia’s military involvement in the east of Ukraine, and their disagreement with what they consider to be unlawful convictions in the “Bolotnaya Case”.

The accusations levelled against Memorial are unprecedented.

We, members of the Human Rights Council, Russian human rights defenders, declare:

1) We share the view of Memorial Human Rights Centre regarding all the points referred to in the Justice Ministry’s ruling: Russia’s policies in relation to Ukraine are aggressive in nature and contravene international laws; Russian military service personnel have participated in military action in the east of Ukraine; the “Bolotnaya Case” was fabricated, and the resulting convictions unlawful.

2) We consider it to be the duty of human rights defenders to point out violations of national and international law by government bodies of every level and to work for the observance of legal norms.

3) We consider it to be the duty of human rights defenders, where national laws are of an inhumane character, to point out this fact and to work against the adoption of such laws.

4) The activity of the human rights defenders is protected by Russian legislation and international treaties ratified by the Russian Federation.

We call on governmental human rights institutions – the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, the Presidential Human Rights Council - to immediately respond to the accusations made against Memorial Human Rights Centre.

We demand that the Ministry of Justice immediately withdraws the accusations in question and issues an apology to Memorial Human Rights Centre.

Members of the Human Rights Council:

L.M. Alekseeva
V.V. Borshchev
Yu. I. Vdovin
I.A. Kalyapin
G.A. Melkonyants
L.A. Ponomarev
N.E. Taubina
L.V. Shibanova

Those wishing to add their signatures to the declaration in support of Memorial Human Rights Centre can do so on the website of Lev Ponomarev or on that of

Translated by Kate Goodby

Death of baby in custody: Police ministry finds 'no violations in actions of St Petersburg police’

posted 13 Nov 2015, 13:46 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 13 Nov 2015, 13:59 ]

2 November 2015

Source: (info)
Mediazone reports that, according to the press centre of the federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry has announced that an internal routine investigation has shown that “the police did not break any law and lawfully handed over a citizen from Tadzhikistan with a small baby, Umarali Nazarov, to the 1st police department in the Admiralty district of St. Petersburg”. The baby was subsequently removed from its mother and died.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs on 13th October officers from the Federal Migration Service for St Petersburg and Leningrad region detained Zarina Yunusova, a citizen of Tadzhikistan, with a small baby.

Given the fact that police officers decided to hand over Yunusova to the migration authorities, they left the baby at the 1st police department for Admiralty district in St Petersburg “to sort things out with officers who deal with cases concerning minors.”

The police Ministry maintains that Yunusova voluntarily handed over her baby son to the police. They also stated that the police called on medics to take the baby to the Tsimbalin Centre for Medical and Social Rehabilitation of Children and informed the mother about this.

“During all the time before handing over the baby to the ambulance staff (20 minutes) the inspector from the subdivision for juvenile cases allegedly held the baby in his arms and treated him carefully”, which, according to the police, can be verified by video footage. “There was no recorded evidence of any visible signs that the child felt unwell, the baby was absolutely calm,” the police ministry report said.

The medical centre announced the death of the baby by telegram the next day, 14th October 2015. The statement said that the probable cause of death was acute viral respiratory illness.

On 20th October the Investigative Committee reported that a criminal case had been opened with regard to the baby’s death. The case was opened under Article 109 Section 2 of the Criminal Code (causing death through negligence as a result of inadequate performance of professional responsibilities).

At the same time, the police have started their own investigation into the parents of the deceased baby under Article 156 of the Criminal Code (failure in duty of care in bringing up minors).

In turn the investigative department of the Admiralty district is conducting a check “regarding individuals involved in the removal of the child from its parents and handing it over to the medical centre.”

On 15th October 2015 the St Petersburg court ruled that Zarina Yunusova, the mother of the deceased child, should be deported and fined 5,000 roubles. The deportation order should be carried out within two weeks.

Translated by Frances Robson

Magomed Mutsolgov accused of “anti-Russian and subversive activities"

posted 13 Nov 2015, 13:22 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 13 Nov 2015, 13:31 ]

7 November 2015

Source: (info)
The Ingush human rights activist Magomed Mutsolgov has been accused of “anti-Russian and subversive activities".

At around 7 in the morning on 6 November 2015, several dozen law-enforcement officials arrived in three Gazel minibuses, an armoured UAZ military vehicle and a Lada Priora car at the offices of the human rights organisation Mashr in Karabulak (Republic of Ingushetia).

The gate into the courtyard was opened for them by Magomed Mutsolgov, head of Mashr, who lives in the building with his family.

The law enforcement agents – some of whom wore masks – said they belonged to the Ministry of Interior department for the North Caucasus Federal District.

The group was headed by police major A.T. Sottaev.

Mutsolgov was handed a ruling of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ingushetia dated 20 October 2015 authorising “investigative activities” at the address in question: an investigation (inspection) of the premises, building, facilities, grounds and vehicles.

The police brought two witnesses – members of the armed forces – along with them.

The ruling furthermore stated that the investigation (inspection) would be carried out on the basis of information to the effect that:

"Magomed Mutsolgov acts as a link for NGOs based in Georgia, several European countries and the US which harbour anti-Russian sentiments, and works in the interests of and on the instructions of foreign NGOs. In order to promote subversive activities on the territory of the Russian Federation, Magomed Mutsolgov engages in activities aimed at inciting inter-religious conflicts within the North Caucasian Federal District. Mutsolgov is involved in carrying out various extremist projects disseminated by him in the regions of the North Caucasian Federal District which have a propagandistic, anti-Russian character and foster negative public attitudes towards the actions of the Russian authorities in relation to Ukraine, Georgia and Syria. Mutsolgov uses various Internet-based media outlets and social networks to carry out his subversive activities within the regions of the North Caucasian Federal District, and also organises various seminars, training courses and forums. Mutsolgov acts extremely secretively, and painstakingly disguises his extremist leanings. He only ever uses verified channels of communication with trusted parties. He produces and keeps stocks of various extremist materials aimed at inciting inter-ethnic enmity and other articles which may not be disseminated freely on the territory of the Russian Federation."

The officials inspected all of the premises before starting their search, including the courtyard and the cars parked there. They then searched the house where Magomed Mutsolgov lives with his family. They took nothing from the house. The officials conducted themselves properly and talked in Russian, some with a Caucasian accent.

While this was happening, Ruslan Mutsolgov (Magomed’s brother) arrived at the offices of Mashr and showed the police officers around.

Having ascertained that there was no threat to their safety, the police searched the offices and removed all the documentation they found (reports by Mashr and other NGOs, files with incoming and outgoing documents, accounts, accounts, business cards etc.), as well as computers, cameras, video cameras and mobile telephones.

Staff of the organisation, family members and lawyers were not allowed into the courtyard giving access to the offices and Mutsolgov’s family home while the search was going on.

Upon completion of the search at 1.30 p.m., the police officers handed over a protocol of the investigation (inspection) which listed all the documents, office equipment and other items removed.

As he left, police major A.T. Sottaev, who was in charge of the operation, told Magomed Mutsolgov that he would have to travel to Vladikavkaz (Republic of Northern Ossetia-Alania) to collect the documents and other items which had been removed, and that he would be notified by telephone at a later point of the date when he should do so.

Aleksandr Cherkasov, chair of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow), has issued the following statement on the case:

"The very language of the ruling and the non-legal lexicon with which it is full, is astonishing and deeply reminiscent of Soviet times. What on earth do they mean by ‘destructive opinions’? Allegations such as ‘Mutsolgov acts extremely secretively, and painstakingly disguises his extremist leanings’ are a clear sign that there is no crime that can be pinned on Magomed. Yet there is every possibility that this quasi-legal clap-trap will result in a real-life criminal case on the grounds of ‘treachery’, a fate suffered by Professor Mikhail Savva, also in the Caucasus. The Stalin-era terminology of the ‘law’ on ‘foreign agents’ is now being used to fabricate all-too-real criminal cases. The work of Magomed Mutsolgov and the NGO Mashr over many years has gained a well-deserved authority and respect. Russian NGOs and the international human rights community should not underestimate the gravity of this case and should come to their defence.”

Translated by Joanne Reynolds

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