International Memorial Society: What happened in St. Petersburg is no accident, but the direct consequence of the law on ‘foreign agents’

posted 16 Dec 2013, 09:02 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Dec 2013, 09:06 ]
14 December 2013

Source: (info)
Statement by International Memorial Society: “On the prosecution of the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre” 

On 12 December Lenin district court in St. Petersburg ruled that the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre – a St. Petersburg non-profit that works to assist members of ethnic minorities who are traditionally objects of discrimination (in particular, Roma) – is a ‘foreign agent’. The court bound the Centre to register itself as such.

On 10 December, at a meeting with human rights defenders on Human Rights Day, the President of Russia said: "The government and the human rights movement have absolutely identical aims.” Two days later, on Russian Constitution Day, in his annual address to the Federal Assembly the President stated that ‘support for the human rights movement must become one of the priorities in the joint work of state and society.” 

At virtually the same moment as the President was making this speech in parliament, a court in St. Petersburg was handing down a judgment that in practice destroys one of the most effective human rights organizations in the country.

We say ‘destroy’ advisedly because not a single independent NGO will agree to take on the insulting and false label of ‘foreign agent’.

Surely there can be no more vivid demonstration of the divergence between the words and deeds of the Russian authorities? 

What happened in St. Petersburg is no accident, but the direct consequence of the law on ‘foreign agents’.

This law was developed and rapidly adopted – on the initiative of the Russian leadership – exclusively for the purpose of combating independent civil society organizations that are resisting arbitrary action of government at every level.

Until this law has been repealed there are no grounds to trust soothing speeches, regardless of the status of the speaker.

We are in solidarity with our colleagues from Memorial Anti-Discrimination Centre and are ready together with them to resist the unconstitutional law and fight for a review of the court’s judgment.

Board of the International Memorial Society

St. Petersburg Memorial Society joins its name to this statement