Chair of Human Rights Council believes Agora is not engaged in political activity

posted 11 Jun 2014, 19:22 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Jun 2014, 19:33 ]
6 June 2014

Source: (info
On 3 June the prosecutor of Tatarstan ruled that since Agora Human Rights Association received financial support from foreign governments and organisations and was involved in political activities through holding political demonstrations, it must be recognised as a non-profit organisation which acts as a foreign agent.

Pavel Chikov, director of Agora, is a member of the Presidential Council for Human Rights and the Development of Civil Society. For this reason Mikhail Fedotov, the Council's chair, felt it necessary to express his position on this question after having contacted the prosecutor of Tatarstan, Ildus Nafikov. Fedotov's letter has been published on the Presidential Human Rights Council's official website.

The chair of the Presidential Council stated that he could not agree with Agora's activities being described as "political", since the writing of independent reports as experts, the analysis of law enforcement practice, and the training of lawyers all belong to the field of law. 

Consequently, the Council does not share the opinion that Agora plays a significant role in shaping public opinion regarding various political issues.

In his letter to the prosecutor, Fedotov said that "P. V. Chikov does indeed have influence on public opinion regarding various political issues. However, he is a member of the Presidential Council in a personal capacity, not as chair of Agora Human Rights Association. This means that in the hypothetical event of a change of chairperson at Agora Human Rights Association, P. V. Chikov will remain a member of the Presidential Council, not any newly chosen chairperson".

Mikhail Fedotov went on to note in his letter that the difficulties over the application of the "foreign agent" law were due to its having been insufficiently studied and, in particular, due to errors in interpreting the expression "political activity". The Council had repeatedly asked for this issue to be examined by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, by the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and by the State Duma, and believes that the law should be amended as soon as possible to take into account shortcomings which have been identified when applying the law.

Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts