Court finds prosecutors' warning to Ryazan Memorial unlawful

posted 26 Dec 2013, 14:23 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 26 Dec 2013, 14:33 ]
25 December 2013

Source: (info)
On 25 December 2013 Ryazan region court ruled in favour of the appeal lodged by Ryazan Memorial Society and found that the warning issued against the organization by prosecutors concerning the alleged ‘impermissibility of violating the law on non-profit organizations’ was unlawful.

In April 2013 Ryazan regional prosecutors conducted an inspection of the work of Ryazan Memorial regarding "observance of the law on extremism”. The inspection found no evidence of violations of the law.

Nonetheless, the prosecutor’s office then issued a warning concerning the “impermissibility of conducting political activity unless the organization is registered as a non-profit functioning as a foreign agent”.

Ryazan Memorial took the prosecutors to court, demanding that the official warning be found to be unlawful and be quashed.

Three lawyers represented Ryazan Memorial in court: Aleksandr Zarutsky and Petr Ivanov from Ryazan Memorial, and Furkat Tishaev, an expert on international law from the Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow).

On 16 October 2013 the Soviet district court had heard the appeal by Memorial and dismissed the organization's claims on the grounds that the warning had the character of a supposition, and did not violate the rights and freedoms of the applicant organization.

At the same time, the court of first instance based its ruling on the view that “no evidence of actual political activity was presented”, and the warning itself had been issued in violation of legal requirements.

Both sides appealed against the decision of the Soviet district court. The prosecutors did not agree with the conclusions of the court as to the basis of its judgment, and lodged an appeal. Ryazan Memorial challenged the verdict itself, and called for the warning to be declared unlawful.

The presiding judge in the court hearing in Ryazan region court was A. A. Voeikov. The hearing lasted more than an hour and a half. In conclusion, the court ruled in favour of Ryazan Memorial, and in its judgment declared that the warning issued by the prosecutor against the organization was unlawful.

"Undoubtedly, we are glad about today’s judgment,” said Andrei Blinushov, chair of Ryazan Memorial. “At the same time we believe that the court has reached the only verdict possible. The language of the ‘foreign agent’ law on NGOs, on which the prosecutors based their arguments, is too vague, and its application threatens many non-profit organizations that have never engaged in political activity. The weaknesses of this law, and the need to change it, have already been admitted by the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation and by the President himself.”

For detailed information on the court’s ruling in this case, please contact Furkat Tishaev, an expert with the Memorial Human Rights Centre on +7 985 269 98 56 or Natalya Brikker, press service of Ryazan Memorial, on +7 906 646 82 12, e-mail: