2 February 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
Human rights defender Svetlana Gannushkina believes that the inspection by officials from the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Civic Assistance Committee, and the claims they served on the organization. justify the stance taken by her and her colleagues at Constitutional Court hearings, and she views it as a show of force unbecoming of the highest government oversight body.
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On 31 January, 2014, an official from the Public Prosecutor's Office arrived at the Civic Assistance Committee, accompanied by a police officer. The visit by the prosecutor was a routine inspection to establish whether the NGO was "compliant with current legislation." As usual, no further details on the objective of the inspection were offered.
The Chair of the Committee, Svetlana Alekseevna Gannushkina, was handed a demand to attend the Meshchansky Inter-District Public Prosecutor's Office at 11 o'clock on 2 February (the following business day), "in order to provide some written clarification of the organisation's activities".
In addition, the Committee was to provide original copies of ten types of documents: statutory, financial, information about events, and printed materials (on certain points there were over twenty documents in total).
The requested material included mysterious "documents attesting to the timeliness and completeness of reporting submitted to the Russian Ministry of Justice". It would seem that the Justice Ministry is not itself in a position to assess whether documents submitted by the organisation are satisfactory or not.
Furthermore, the list of required material includes "details of the preparation and issue of ... articles published in the media, including on the Internet, in addition to other media projects (radio and TV appearances), and also the submission of source documents that formed the basis of the activity specified (contracts, agreements, invitations)".
In response, Svetlana Gannushkina tried to send the Assistant Meshchansky Inter-District Public Prosecutor a request to state in writing what evidence of a crime had prompted the inspection, as well as how each of the requested documents was connected to this evidence. In addition, Gannushkina asked in her letter that the time and form of the inspection be agreed upon with the organisation. However, the official from the Public Prosecutor's Office refused to convey the letter, and so it was sent by fax and delivered to the Meshchansky Public Prosecutor's Office by a courier, who also failed to obtain acknowledgement that the letter had been received.
Svetlana Gannushkina has said that the Civic Assistance Committee is not in a position to deliver several kilograms' worth of documents to the Public Prosecutor's Office. The matter of her appearance on Monday has not yet been decided, as the lawyer that represents Civic Assistance in such cases, Kirill Koroteev, an employee of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, is required to be in court at the allotted time as part of an appeals process.
Svetlana Gannushkina noted that she is disheartened by the questionable conduct of the Public Prosecutor's Office, which did not wait for a decision to be made by Russia's Constitutional Court.
A hearing into the case on reviewing the constitutionality of particular provisions of the Federal Law 'On the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation' took place on 22 January, 2015.
The reason for the hearing was a joint complaint lodged by civil society organisations including the Memorial Human Rights Centre, the International Memorial Society, Civic Assistance, and Svetlana Gannushkina herself.
The complainants sought an acknowledgement of the law's unconstitutional ambiguity with regard to the inspections carried out by the Public Prosecutor's Office: that the inspections lacked procedure, clear justification, time limits and an objective.
Human rights defender Svetlana Gannushkina believes that the inspection by officials of the Public Prosecutor's Office, and the claims they served on the organization, justify the stance taken by her and her colleagues at Constitutional Court hearings, and she views it as a show of force unbecoming of the highest government oversight body.
Source: The Memoriaal Human Rights Centre, Moscow
Translated by Lindsay Munford
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