Ekaterinburg NGO wins 'foreign agent' case

posted 22 Nov 2013, 07:49 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 Nov 2013, 07:55 ]
20 November 2013

Source: HRO.org (info)
In Ekaterinburg, one of the most active NGOs in the Ural region that was facing charges under the 'foriegn agent' law – Human Rights Information Centre – has won a court victory. A district court judge in Ekaterinburg, Irina Maiorova, ruled that the warning by prosecutors issued against the non-profit organization was unlawful, and bound Sverdlovsk region prosecutor’s office to withdraw its complaint.

The Human Rights Information Centre represents Memorial in the region and has carried out dozens of educational, historical and human rights projects.

At the start of 2013 the Human Rights Information Centre in Ekaterinburg, like many other NGOs, was inspected by prosecutors under the law on ‘foreign agents’.

The director of the Centre, Anna Pastukhova, has commented on the ruling:

– The lawyer for the defence was Elena Makei, a member of Ekaterinburg Memorial and representative of Lawyers for Civil Society. We also received regular support and consultations in contesting the prosecutors’ warning from the Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Centre, in particular from the Centre’s senior lawyer, Furkat Tishaev, whose strategy and tactics are reflected in our legal documents and actions, we drew on his advice as we prepared for a long-drawn out struggle for the good name of our organization.

Over the last two months our case was also taken up by the lawyer Roman Kachanov (chair of Interregional Human Rights Centre). The lawyer Sergei Petryakov from the Chuvash organization Shield and Sword, which is a member of the Agora Human Rights Association, on his own initiative came to the court to take part in the hearing.

All those who took part in the trial made an important contribution, and it was only because we were able to bring so many experts together, and the clarity of the position of each member of the coalition we made up, that we were able to achieve a positive outcome. In our legal strategy we based ourselves on the work of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, which proposed continuing the case by means of an application to the European Court of Human Rights. At first the development of our case fell behind those of other human rights groups, and then unexpectedly we rapidly caught up, and everything was decided over five days.

In my opinion a decisive role was played by the decision of Moscow's Zamoskvorechye court on 18 November – the eve of our hearing – to postpone the hearing of the case involving Memorial Human Rights Centre until 4 February.