Russian Human Rights Council: “Inevitable consequences of the hunt for foreign ‘agents’ ”

posted 2 Jun 2014, 08:20 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Jun 2014, 08:24 ]
29 May 2014

Source: (info)
"...Under these conditions, the dialogue between the authorities and society is turning into a conversation with ‘foreign agents’ or a matter of ‘talking to oneself’ on the ruins of civil society," the Russian Human Rights Council says.

"One year after the wave of inspections by the Prosecutor’s Office, which have affected hundreds of non-governmental organizations, the authorities are again exacerbating the confrontation with the civil society.

Non-governmental organizations that have received 'warnings' from prosecutors have appealed in the courts against the results of last year's inspections by the Prosecutor’s Office.

Meanwhile, the courts continue to rule against human rights organizations, demanding that they ‘voluntarily’ register as an ‘organization, performing the function of foreign agent.’

Inspections by prosecutors have resumed in eight Russian regions.

Finally, the State Duma and the Council of the Federation have approved new amendments to the legislation, providing for the extrajudicial and forcible entry into the register of ‘agents’.

The desire of the authorities to label any independent social activity as that of a ‘foreign agent’ is obvious.
The term ‘foreign agent’ is an insult to human rights, environmental and socially-oriented non-profit organizations.

Their goal is to help people defend universally significant, legal and democratic principles. That is why they serve the country and the peoples of Russia as well.

Human rights and environmental protection activity is impossible without appealing to the government and public opinion and without the involvement of civil activists in civil campaigns.

In the current social atmosphere of xenophobia and hatred of ‘the West’, the label ‘foreign agent’ undermines the very idea of ​​oversight of government bodies by civil society, since it renders pointless any public activities of non-governmental organizations and especially their appeals to officials in the interests of individuals and society.

Having such a label, the work of human rights organizations becomes meaningless and in the future their harassment leading to their liquidation or dissolution becomes inevitable.

The definition of ‘political activity’ given by the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation is vague, permitting an excessively broad interpretation and allowing any civil society activity and any meaningful statement to be categorized as ‘political’.

The conformism and lack of independence of our judicial system are well known, and references to the possibility of protecting our rights in court sound like an evil mockery. These concerns are confirmed by judicial practice.
The current police diligence puts the authorities themselves in a ridiculous situation. Dozens and hundreds of non-profit organizations, known and respected both in Russian regions as well as internationally will receive the label ‘agent’.

Under these conditions, the dialogue between the authorities and society is turning into a conversation with ‘foreign agents’ or a matter of ‘talking to oneself’ on the ruins of the civil society.”

The Human Rights Council:

Ludmila Alekseeva
Valery Borschev
Yury Vdovin
Svetlana Gannushkina
Sergei Kovalev
Oleg Orlov
Lev Ponomarev
Aleksandr Cherkasov

May 28 2014

Translated by Ana-Maria Sirbu