Moscow: Memorial Human Rights Centre loses "foreign agent" appeal

posted 28 May 2014, 01:55 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 28 May 2014, 02:45 ]
23 May 2014

Source: (info
On 23 May 2014, Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky district court heard an appeal by the Memorial Human Rights Centre against an order of the public prosecutor's office. 

The order by the public prosecutor's office, issued on 29 April 2013 on the basis of a prosecutor's investigation, instructed the Memorial Human Rights Centre to register on the list of "NGOs acting as foreign agents."

District court judge Yana Shemyakina rejected the appeal.

During the court proceedings Senior Lawyer for Memorial Kirill Koroteev and an expert for the human rights organisation Furkat Tishaev failed to get clarification from the public prosecutor regarding what they meant by "political activities" or precisely which articles on the OVD-Info website they considered to be untrue, etc.

In their response, the prosecutors adhered strictly to the text of the prosecutor's order being contested, repeating it like a mantra, including gross judicial and factual errors (for example, mentioning the mysterious "UN European Court").

In the order, the political activities of the Memorial Human Rights Centre cited by the Moscow public prosecutor were firstly, articles on the OVD-Info website and secondly, the participation of Sergei Davidis, member of the board of Memorial and member of the politburo of the Solidarnost movement, in organising public events.

Questioned on behalf of the complainant, Grigory Okhotin, member of the OVD-Info group, said that Memorial did not do any of the editorial work on the site.

Sergei Davidis, another witness for the appellant, said that he had acted in a private capacity when helping out with organising events and that his activities as part of the Solidarnost movement had nothing whatsoever to do with the Memorial Human Rights Centre.

In answer to a question by Furkat Tishaev regarding whose interests the public prosecutor thought Memorial was working in, the public prosecutor said: "In the interests of a wide range of people."

In other words, the public prosecutor told the court that the activities of the Memorial Human Rights Centre did not exhibit the most important characteristic of an "NGO acting as a foreign agent" - working in the interests of a sponsor.

Despite the completely incomprehensible order of the public proscecutor's office, riddled as it was with errors and inaccuracies, the judge rejected our appeal in these adversarial, in principle, proceedings.

Aleksandr Cherkasov, Director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, remarked: 

"Firstly, we have no intention of registering as a 'foreign agent'. Secondly, we will carry on our work. Thirdly, we will use all legal means to stand up not only for the rights of others but those of ourselves also. We will appeal the decision of the Zamoskvoretsky district court in a higher court. Our appeal is with the European Court of Human Rights. Life goes on."

Left to right: Kirill Koroteev, Furkat Tishaev, Aleksandr Cherkasov.

Photo: Memorial Human Rights Centre

Translated by Natascha Kearsey