Statement by Perm Grani Centre: "Ministry of Justice's decision is absurd and dangerous"

posted 23 Feb 2015, 04:02 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 23 Feb 2015, 04:36 ]
16 February 2015

Source: (info
Statement by the Centre for Civic Analysis and Independent Research (Grani Centre) 

On Friday 13th February, the website of the Ministry of Justice published an announcement that the Grani Centre had been added to the register of so-called ‘foreign agent’ NGOs. The grounds for this inclusion, the website stated, were the materials of the unscheduled inspection of our organization conducted by the Perm region department of the Ministry of Justice.

In this regard we make the following statement:

The conclusions of the inspection do not stand up, and the complaints made are absurd. The organization receives no foreign money. We are disappointed with the low quality of the work of the local department of the Justice Ministry in exercising its functions of oversight. We have sent our complaints about the inspection to the regional department, and are awaiting the results of its review.

We did not violate the law and we shall demonstrate this in court. We have lodged an appeal against both the results of the inspection and the inclusion of our organization in the ‘foreign agent’ register. Four court decisions in the course of 2013 concluded that there were no grounds to designate Grani Centre as a ‘foreign agent’.

Now about the things that are most important to us.

We believe that it is unacceptable, and a threat to the present and future of our country, to view the participation of citizens in the administration of the state, which is enshrined in legislation, as an allegedly political activity that is allegedly dangerous for our country.

Grani Centre’s independence, transparency, modern IT,  and productivity in its work to expand civic participation in government is well known. Organizations such as ours are needed by government bodies so that they can do their work better.

We are needed by citizens so that they can have a more than merely symbolic participation in the taking of decisions. And we feel that we are needed by the country in which the gulf between the authorities and the citizens is recognized by both state and society as a problem.

Moreover, the game that is being played with Grani Centre and with our colleagues is simply not honest.

The notion of ‘foreign agent’ NGOs that is being introduced not only serves no useful purpose in society. It means that a responsible civil society organization is not able to apply to itself demands that are non-transparent, nor to understand the borders of ‘political activity’ which are always being moved.

We do not intend to play this game according to rules that have been dreamed up without any good reason and forced upon us. There is no place in the register of ‘foreign agents’ for our organization, an organization which is devotes itself to working to resolve issues facing public participation, ensuring transparent and productive interaction between society and the authorities.

For this reason we have begun consultations about beginning the process of closing down our organization.

At the same time we shall continue to carry out our obligations and stand up for what we believe in in court. And for sure we shall not give up our mission,  which is to return to citizens the right to be enlightened participants in change for the better.

Source: Grani Centre, Perm