HRO.org in English
26 May 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
report by Transparency International-Russia analyses the allocation of grants from the President of Russia in 2012 and the financing of socially-oriented NGOs through the Ministry of Economic Development in 2013.
The study considers transparency with respect to grant administrators and tender winners, as well as the transparency of the actual mechanism for allocating State funding.
The tender winners that were selected for the study included organisations that have received State financing to the tune of over three million rubles. In total, 114 non-governmental organisations were selected.
Lack of transparency
The study demonstrated a lack of transparency in tender selection procedures and in the reporting of tender winners. It evaluated the availability of reporting documents, charters and information about the management and projects on the websites of those organisations. Particular attention was paid to any potential affiliation members of NGOs might have with public authorities, the Civic Chamber and members of tender committees.
The procedures for selecting the organisations that administered the 'presidential' tenders and the commission they received for running the tender remain secret, although they are all potentially linked to State authorities; for example, through governing bodies.
In addition, a subsidiary of one grant administrator has itself received government funding on more than one occasion. A quarter of the NGO winners of the 'presidential' tender do not have their own website, while just one third have published their mandated annual report on the Ministry of Justice website.
The Ministry of Economic Development tender has traditionally been more open, although here too there are ample opportunities for greater transparency. Almost all of the winners have their own websites, yet only 41% of the NGO winners post their mandated yearly reports on the Ministry of Justice website.
The authors have drawn up a series of recommendations that, when implemented, will serve to increase procedural transparency and mitigate the risk of corruption when State funding is being allocated.
The report discusses the need for the selection of grant administrators to be made public; for tender applications and contracts made with winners to be put online; for there to be a public declaration of conflicts of interest amongst members of tender committees; and that restrictions be placed on organisations entering a tender several years in a row.
TI - R has previously carried out a series of studies of State funding for the Third Sector. In 2012, it published a monitoring study on support for socially-oriented NGOs.
In 2013, and again in 2014, it presented reports on transparency with respect to State funding for NGOs. Those reports analysed both presidential tenders for allocating grants and funding from the Ministry of Economic Development.
Translated by Lindsay Munford
26 May 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
Committee Against Torture has published a statement (‘Unacceptable intimidation of DIGNITY staff by Russian authorities’, published in English on 22 May 2015) by the Danish Institute Against Torture on the unacceptable intimidation of their staff by the Russian authorities:
“DIGNITY staff has been fined and expelled from Russia. During the hearing false evidence and false documents were presented and used.
"The intimidation our staff experienced throughout the process proves that working conditions for organizations like DIGNITY in Russia have become much tougher.
"This week, DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture was invited to Russia by the Russian human rights organization Committee Against Torture (CAT). DIGNITY provides technical assistance to many organizations around the world on issues of trauma rehabilitation and prevention of torture. This was also the purpose of the visit to CAT in Nizhny Novogorod.
"Wednesday morning 20 May, the Federal Migration Service in Nizhny Novogorod, detained three employees of DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture. The Migration Service informed our staff that they were in violation of Russian visa regulations.
"Wednesday evening, one employee was fined 2000 (40 USD) Rubles and ordered to leave Russia. The following day, the two other employees received the same sentences. They have now all left Russia.
"It's important to stress, that DIGNITY staff had employed Russian consular services when applying for visas. At no time, even at the point of entry into Russia were DIGNITY staff informed of any violation of immigration regulation. All relevant information about the journey had been clearly marked on the visa applications.
"The employees have been assisted by Petr Ivanovich Zaikin, a lawyer for CAT, and have cooperated with the authorities the entire time in order to solve any issues. The Danish ambassador and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs have continuously assisted in the matter."
Karin Verland, General Director of DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture states:
"DIGNITY's first priority was to make sure that our employees were treated well and that they were safe. That's why we have been collaborating with Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs."
"DIGNITY was invited to Russia in order to offer technical assistance on trauma rehabilitation and prevention of torture. Throughout the past 30 years, DIGNITY has established itself as an expert in rehabilitation and prevention and it's in this capacity that we were invited to Russia. The intimidation our staff experienced throughout the process proves that working conditions for organizations like DIGNITY in Russia have become much tougher. It's important that the world acknowledges this very unfortunate development.
"It's important for me to underline, that our employees had obtained visas to Russia and that their mission to Russia had been publicly announced. Still, our employees saw how witnesses gave false evidence, that false documents were presented and that the judge did not dismiss these but rather used the material actively in the case against our staff. At no time were our staff provided with charges in a language they could understand. These methods do not belong in a democracy or a rule of law."
21 May 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
RIA Novosti reports, citing the lawyer Petr Zaikin.
Zaikin said: 'The court considered only the case of one of the three individuals. A citizen from Germany has been fined 2,000 roubles and deported from Russia for violating Article 18.8 (section 2) of the Administrative Law Code.'
The Article concerning ‘violation by foreigners of the rules of entry or staying in Russia in terms of the real purpose for the visit being different from that stated’ provides for violations to be punished by a fine of from 2,000 to 5,000 roubles, either conjointly with deportation or without, RAPSI points out.
According to the lawyer Petr Zaikin, the court is to consider the other cases later.
The Russian NGO Committee Against Torture reported on Tuesday 19th May that the training workshop of the human rights defenders had been disrupted by officers from the Federal Migration Service. The NGO said that about ten officers from the regional department of the Federal Migration Service had arrived at the hotel where the training was being jointly conducted by the Danish Institute Against Torture and the Committee Against Torture, and asked the Europeans present to accompany them to the offices of the Migration Service.
The press office of the Migration Service told RIA Novosti that their officers were ‘checking information they had received that there had been a possible violation of migration law and were carrying out procedural actions in that regard.’
In Nizhny Novgorod migration officials break up training workshop on torture for human rights defenders
20 May 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY) and the Nizhny Novgorod Committee Against Torture.
"The Migration Service officers asked our European colleagues to go with them to the Service's office, without making clear what reasons they had for this,” witnesses to what happened report. “After an hour-long discussion of the reasons for such a request, the lawyer Petr Zaikin arrived, and together with staff from the Committee Against Torture he went with the European human rights defenders to the offices of the Federal Migration Service for Nizhny Novgorod region.”
The training, organized by the Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY) and the Committee Against Torture, was focused on a study of the work of the Public Oversight Commssions and the European Committee Against Torture.
During the workshop, a psychologist from the Danish Institute Against Torture, Uwe Harlacher, planned to discuss with his Russian colleagues issues of rehabilitation of victims of torture, in particular with regard to the most common symptoms.
The press secretary of the Committee Against Torture, Ivan Zhiltsov, who was present at the workshop, said: "Yesterday was the first day of the training and it passed off successfully. However, today at about 10 am officers from the Federal Migration Service came to the hotel and asked the lecturers from the Danish Institute Against Torture first of all to show them their identity papers, and then asked them to accompany them to the offices of the Migration Service. To start with, one of the officers named as a reason that "there has been a violation of the law." However, a colleague of his corrected him and said that there were "indications that a violation of the law had been committed."
What violation, precisely, none of the migration officers explained. Later on, as a reason why it was necessary for our European colleagues to go to the offices of the Migration Service, a new explanation was given, namely that in order to draw up an official report it was necessary to check with some electronic databases that could only be accessed from there. In the upshot, when the lawyer Petr Zaikin arrived, together with our lawyers, the staff from the Danish Institute Against Torture set off to the offices of the Federal Migration Service for Nizhny Novgorod region.”
21 May 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
The eighth international scholarly conference in the ‘History of Stalinism’ series will held in Ekaterinburg during 14-17th October 2015. The conference’s theme will be: ‘After Stalin. The reforms of the 1950s in the context of soviet and post-Soviet history’.
The Archive Directorate of Sverdlovsk region, the Institute of History and Archaeology of the Urals Academy of Science, and the B. N. Yeltsin Urals Federal University together head the organizing team.
Also participating in the organization of the conference are:
Despite the reforms being of a limited and contradictory nature, they had positive results, and gave an impetus to the development of Soviet society. The difficulties of the 1970s and early 1980s compelled the search for new directions in the Soviet transition and ended with the rejection of the socialist system, and the dissolution of the USSR.
This notwithstanding, both in the new Russia and other post-Soviet states, questions relating to destalinization or restalinization continue to be politically and ideologically important, and feature in public and academic disputes. The conference’s task is to establish the main trends and landmarks in ‘destalinization’ from a long-term perspective, come to some conclusions on this, and also on contemporary discussions of the Stalinist system.
The following many-sided issues will be discussed:
To participate: by 1 September 2015 send in an application to the organizing committee (name, place of work and position, landline or mobile phone number, e-mail) and short theses of the presentation (200-250 words). The organizing committee retains the rights to select presenters.
Travel and subsistence expenses for non-Ekaterinburg participants will be reimbursed.
Secretary of the organizing committee: Natalya Arnoldovna Shapovalova, tel/fax: +7 (495) 2297589, e-mail email@example.com
Translated by Mary McAuley
20 May 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
The law does not specify exactly what actions on the part of international organisations “threaten Russia’s constitutional order”. Consequently, there is wide scope for the repression of civil society.
In the near future, this document will be presented to President Vladimir Putin for his signature.
According to the bill, any foreign or international NGO can be labelled "undesirable" if it "presents a threat to the foundations of Russia's constitutional order, its defence capability and security", reports Radio Svoboda (RFE/RL).
The document does not specify exactly what actions on the part of international organisations would come under the new law's definition. The decision to register an organisation as "undesirable" will be taken by state prosecutors with the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A fine of from 5 000 to 100 000 roubles will be imposed for breaking the law. A repeat offence will lead to a prison sentence of up to six years.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had already spoken out against the adoption of the new law.
Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts
13 May 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
Ekaterina Kharebava, who was working as a market seller in Sochi at that time, was found guilty of witnessing Russian troop movements in August 2008 and "informing the military representative of Georgia of this fact, thereby handing over information constituting a state secret, which harmed the interests of the Russian Federation".
Art. 276 of the Russian Criminal Code defines as a criminal offence the "transfer, and also collection, theft, or keeping for the purpose of transfer to a foreign state, a foreign organisation, or their representatives of information constituting a state secret, and also the transfer or collection of other information under the order of a foreign intelligence service, to the detriment of the external security of the Russian Federation".
There is nothing to suggest that information on the redeployment of troops to Abkhazia in 2008 could have damaged Russia's external security, as it was done with the aim of invading the territory of Georgia from the territory of Abkhazia.
There is also no evidence that Kharebava reported on troop movements under the orders of a foreign intelligence service.
Neither the case documentation nor the findings of military experts attesting to the fact that the information conveyed by Ekaterina Kharebava was a state secret explain how the overt movement of Russian military hardware, witnessed by many other people and reported in the media, could turn out to be classified.
Thus, the actions of Ekaterina Kharebava, who used legal means to pass on unclassified information available to a wide range of individuals, do not fall under this definition of espionage; she is being prosecuted for taking lawful, and not criminally punishable, actions.
The fact that the case against Ekaterina was brought four years after she "committed the acts" in question attests to the political nature of the case.
It was the first in a series of criminal cases that were initiated en masse in 2014-2015 under articles on treason and espionage (Arts. 275 and 276 of the Russian Criminal Code).
They include the cases of Svetlana Davydova, Vladimir Golubev, Evgeny Petrin, Sergei Minakov and others, all of which bear the hallmarks of a political campaign that reflects the government's policy to isolate Russia on the international stage and set it in confrontation with other countries.
No legal evidence was submitted in court in the Kharebava case that the collection of data from Ekaterina's telephone lines had been lawful. This violates her rights, which are guaranteed by the Russian Constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international legal instruments recognised by Russia. It also renders the evidence in question inadmissible and invalidates the legal proceedings based upon that evidence.
After reviewing the case file and facts surrounding the case, the Memorial Human Rights Centre has recognised Ekaterina Kharebava as a political prisoner: it has not been proven that her actions constituted a crime; her rights to privacy of correspondence and fair investigation have been violated; there are indications that documents have been falsified; and her punishment is blatantly selective.
We believe the criminal prosecution of Kharebava to be illegal and politically motivated, and we demand an immediate review of the case and Ekaterina’s release.
For more information on this case visit the Memorial Human Rights Centre website.
The recognition of individuals as political prisoners does not mean that the Memorial Human Rights Centre agrees with the views and statements of those recognised as political prisoners, nor does it signify its approval of their statements or actions.
For photos of the Russia - Georgia conflict, see HERE
Translated by Lindsay Munford
12 May 2015
Internet service providers and media companies have voiced their opposition to proposals to start filtering Web content, purportedly "to protect children from harmful information", Grani.ru reports, citing Kommersant.
The President of the Media-Communication Union (MCU), Sergei Petrov, has written to the Director of Roskomnadzor, Aleksandr Zharov, and to the head of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Leonid Levin, to point out that the proposal is impractical. Algorithms for semantic filtering do not work with video; only text. There is currently no hardware or software system available that makes it possible to filter encrypted traffic.
Moreover, the MCU believes that implementation of such proposals would lead to higher costs for operators. The cost of Internet access would rise, while investment in network development would fall. Small providers may not be able to afford the costly equipment and would be forced to exit the market.
Furthermore, according to the MCU, it is not just Internet service providers who are responsible for information that gets disseminated; those who control the dissemination of information also play a part. That includes Internet sites or bloggers with a daily readership of over 3 million individual visitors.
"Whoever controls the dissemination of information should be held responsible for its content, as that may be either the person producing the information (website) and editing it, or the person who has obtained the rights to store, retrieve and disseminate it (website, online cinema, social network, search engine, Web hosting provider, and so on)," says the document.
In August, a proposal was made to introduce two-tier Internet content filtering that would use lists of sites banned by Roskomnadzor and intelligent recognition of dangerous content.
At the start of December 2014, it was reported that the State Duma intends to pass a law on the mandatory filtering of Internet content at the level of the service provider.
"It is quite evident that substantial top-down pressure will be brought to bear to carry forward the amendments, including from presidential aide Igor Schegolev. It is in his interests for [the amendments] to be passed as soon as possible, ideally before the new year," says the source of the publication.
Translated by Lindsay Munford
12 May 2015
By Vera Vasilieva
‘It is very good news for me, and very important,’ Professor Danilov has written in an e-mail to me.
The application alleges a violation of the right of the applicant to a fair trial, as set out in Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
At Danilov’s trial the jury, which by law should have been selected on the basis of a random selection, contained several people ‘with access to state secrets’. The lawyer Anna Stavitskaya has expressed doubts that this was simply a matter of happenstance.
It is certainly hard to overestimate the significance of this ruling by the European Court, especially if we consider that Valentin Danilov waited for it for ten (!) years.
And moreover the greater part of this time he spent behind bars. The scientist was arrested in February 2001, sentenced to 14 years in prison, and released on parole on 24 November 2012, without having achieved justice in the Russian courts.
At the same time European justice, while irreversible, is incredibly slow. In comparison with the time it takes the European Court to deliver a judgment, human life is too short. Valentin Danilov,whose case has only now entered on the stage of communication (which also demands a significant amount of time), waited ten years for this. How many more years will pass before the case is considered by the Court?
In the case of the first application of Aleksei Pichugin, the former Yukos employee, the whole process took five years.
Fortunately, Danilov is finally at liberty, something that cannot, alas, be said for Pichugin. The latter’s imprisonment has long since ceased to be of interest to the mass media and the majority of the public but remains a cause of suffering for himself and his family. And how many other such prisoners are there?
But – sometimes after a decade and more have gone by – the day arrives when the case has been won at the European Court of Human Rights. What happens next? Under Russian law, if the European Court establishes that there was a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention, then this provides a new circumstance that allows the President of the Supreme Court to quash the unjust conviction and send the case back to a criminal court of first instance for a new hearing.
Valentin Danilov, who no longer works at the Krasnoyarsk Technical University, said in an interview with Radio Svoboda that he does not know of a single example when a decision of the European Court has given any help - except moral consolation - to anyone in our country.
This skepticism is no surprise. There have been too many examples when a judgment by the European Court of Human Rights has been issued either when the individual imprisoned has already been released (as in Danilov’s case), or has not been implemented by the Russian authorities.
This is what has happened, for example, with the ruling by the Strasbourg court in the first Pichugin case, which stated that ‘a more appropriate form of compensation would, in principle, be the conducting of a new judicial review or a new trial’.
And even if a new trial were to be ordered, there are no guarantees that it would not be accompanied by similar violations, and end with the same unjust outcome.
In my opinion, it is obvious that violations of Article 6 of the European Convention have already become a systemic problem of our courts – the same as unlawful use of pre-trial detention or extension of pre-trial detention (Article 5 of the European Convention), and also the use of torture (Article 3).
In my opinion, it is no longer important which court in Russia tries you – the Zamoskvoretsky, Tagansky or Moscow City courts.
I admit that at times I have felt the temptation to dream about some kind of international court that would review criminal cases whose defendants did not find justice in any of the levels of the national judicial system, where violations of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights are not exceptions but the common practice.
But the European Court of Human Rights never considers cases on their merits, nor does it resolve the issue of guilt or innocence of the applicant. The Court does not interfere in the criminal justice legislation of countries that are members of the Council of Europe, including Russia, despite the statements of some of our officials. And there is no court that has powers of that kind.
Of course, this is not what Russian society needs. Russian society needs a great deal of work to be done on its own justice system.
Courts should issue their judgments in accordance with the law! Then there would be no need to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
30 April 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
announced the fact on his Facebook page.
The Court had earlier ruled that the FSB must provide a copy of the secret decision which formed the basis for the ruling of the Federal Migration Service to annul Jennifer Gaspar’s residence permit. During the hearing, the Court ruled that the lawyers acting for Jennifer Gaspar – Sergei Golubok, Olga Tseitlina and Evgeny Smirnov – should sign a non-disclosure agreement concerning the FSB decision.
However, the applicant’s lawyers were in any case not permitted to see the document, despite the petition they submitted to be allowed to do so.
"The judges themselves studied the FSB’s decision in the silence of their retiring room and came to the conclusion that it was lawful,” Ivan Pavlov writes. “So you see there is no adversarial system in civil law, nor equality of arms either.”
Grani.ru writes that Ivan Pavlov had announced on 5 August 2014 that the residence permit given to Jennifer Gaspar had been annulled. The Federal Migration Service explained this by the fact that Jennifer Gaspar had allegedly “spoken out in support of changing the bases of the constitutional order of Russia by force, and by other actions had created a threat to the security of the state.”
"A more ridiculous assertion you could not think up,” Ivan Pavlov commented, “All the more so since no one has given us any indication of concrete reasons or motives [for the decision].”
On 19 August Judge Marina Motova, sitting in Frunzensky district court in St Petersburg, upheld the lawfulness of the ruling by the Federal Migration Service. Judge Motova dismissed a petition that the evidence confirming the lawfulness of the document should be made public.
On 12 November 2014 Ivan Pavlov reported that St. Petersburg City Court had also taken the side of the officials and that now the applicant would take her case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Ivan Pavlov has become well-known as a lawyer, frequently acting for the defence in prosecutions for espionage. In particular, thanks to Ivan Pavlov’s efforts, the prosecutions of Svetlana Davydova, a mother of seven children from Smolensk region, and Sergei Minakov, an electrician and mechanic with the Black Sea Fleet, were halted.
The non-profit of which Ivan Pavlov has been chair of the board works on the issues of public access to socially-significant information, above all information about the work of local government bodies.
Jennifer Gaspar now works for the American consulting company, Praxis Advisors.
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