Sakharov Centre threatened with fine of up to half a million roubles for alleged "foreign agent activity"

posted 18 Jan 2015, 03:29 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Jan 2015, 03:30 ]
15 January 2015

Source: (info)
The Sakharov Museum and Public Centre has been charged with an administrative offence. According to the Ministry of Justice, the organisation has broken the law on NGOs. The maximum fine could be 300 000 to 500 000 roubles. On 25 December 2014, against its will, the Sakharov Centre was put on the register of "NGOs which fulfil the function of a foreign agent". From the Ministry of Justice's point of view, this step was justified by the results of the inspection carried out at the organisation last year over 12 - 24 December. The Public Verdict Foundation will represent the Sakharov Centre in court.

The NGO check was carried out over nine days by the Moscow department of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation. The Ministry of Justice's report on the inspection was handed to staff at the Sakharov Centre on 25 December. The document contains a large number of contradictory and sometimes absurd conclusions, on the basis of which the Ministry of Justice decided that the activities of the Sakharov Centre were "political" in nature. The organisation is accused of having "expressed negative views on decisions and policy of government bodies, and also of criticising the current legislation of the Russian Federation" in the course of public discussions and round tables held at the Centre. The Ministry also drew conclusions about the "political activity" of the Centre on the grounds that participants at one of the discussions undertook "political agitation for constitutional reform of the legal system" and called for "support for gathering signatures in favour of this reform". Moreover, they called for a change of the current regime in the Russian Federation by legal means.

The Sakharov Centre is charged with holding discussions to analyse "the elections for the Mayor of Moscow held in 2013, including the distribution of votes for the candidates Sobyanin and Navalny".

The board of the Sakharov Museum and Public Centre does not agree with the results of the inspection, challenges the very fact that it was lawfully carried out, and contests the charges against them. The Sakharov Centre will appeal against the inspection and its conclusions in the courts. The Centre's interests will be represented by the head of the legal department of the Public Verdict Foundation, Elena Pershakova.

Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts