Memorial Human Rights Centre loses appeal against 'foreign agent' ruling

posted 12 Sept 2014, 13:06 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 12 Sept 2014, 13:20 ]
Source: (info)
By Aleksandr Cherkasov, chair of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre 

Today, 12 September 2014, Moscow City Court heard the appeal of Memorial Human Rights Centre against the ruling of the Zamoskvoretsky district court.

On 23 May 2014 the district court dismissed our appeal against the prosecutor’s Notice of 29 April 2013 that obliged us to register as a ‘foreign agent’. Today Moscow City Court again dismissed our appeal.

The court hearing, which lasted almost one hour, taught us many new things.

The judge chairing the hearing in an offhand manner began to discuss the lists of political prisoners that are regularly drawn up and published by Memorial Human Rights Centre, but which the prosecutors did not say a single word in their ‘Notice’ and which were not discussed by the court of first instance.

The prosecutor, together with the judge, continued stubbornly to confuse Grigory Okhotin, director of the project OVD-Info, and Sergei Davidis, who heads the programme for support of political prisoners, attributing the actions and evidence of the former to the latter.

Moscow City Court ignored the decision of the Constitutional Court that clearly stated on 8 April 2014 that an organization does not bear responsibility for the actions of its member where the member is acting in a personal capacity (or on behalf of another organization).

We found out that reporting to a donor means to act in the donor’s interests; that to ‘put in question the actions of the authorities’ means to be engaged in political activity; that to inform the public about political repressions means to stir people up.

For the first time we have seen a prosecutor arguing that the prosecutor’s Notice is nothing more than a meaningless piece of paper that has no authority and is unable to violate anybody’s rights.

At last we found out much that was new about the properties of time: that a grant received in 2013 could somehow influence the mass demonstrations that took place in of 2011 and 2012.

Moreover, the prosecutors from the very beginning used in their ‘Notice’ facts and events that took place before 21 November 2012, that is, before the ‘foreign agent’ law came into force..

It was vividly demonstrated to us that the prosecutors’ ‘Notice’ could be lawful and well-grounded only in a world that rejects human and physical laws, including the law of causation. Perhaps in a distorted world of that kind we could indeed be someone or other’s ‘agents’.

Aleksandr Cherkasov, chair of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre, Moscow