20 April 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
On 20 April, a statement appeared on the Ministry of Justice's official website with the news that "in relation to the Federal law 'About NGOs', the Ministry of Justice has added Civic Assistance, a regional charitable organisation for aiding refugees and forced migrants, to the register of NGOs which fulfil the functions of foreign agents. The fact that this organisation meets the criteria for NGOs which fulfil the functions of foreign agents was established during an inspection by Moscow city prosecutors".
"Of course, we will appeal against this decision to the district court. We will also make a request for the Ministry of Justice's decision to be suspended, given that making an appeal to the court does not in itself put the Ministry's decision on hold. If our courts support the prosecutors and the Ministry of Justice, we will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights on the basis of a violation of Articles 10, 11 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights", commented Kirill Koroteev, the lawyer who represents Civic Assistance.
"Being put on the 'foreign agent' register imposes numerous obligations on Civic Assistance. Every publication and every piece of information which the NGO now distributes, whether by mass media or on the internet, has to be accompanied by a special label to indicate its status as a 'foreign agent'.
"We will no longer have to submit a report on our activities once a year, like other NGOs, but every six months, and we will have to submit financial reports every three months. Our financial situation will be audited annually and the audit results have to be published on our official website. If Civic Assistance doesn't comply with these obligations, it will be fined.
"Although the reporting demands are excessive, they can be met, whereas indicating 'foreign agent' status on materials is totally unacceptable", Kirill Koroteev said.
Let us recall that in April this year the United Nations Human Rights Committee, having examined the Periodic Report submitted by the Russian Federation, called on the Russian authorities to repeal the 'foreign agent law' on the basis that it is contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The UN Human Rights Committee monitors implementation of the ICCPR.
All these decisions remain in force.
In a special statement, the International Memorial Society stressed that "[...] The law 'On Foreign Agents' does not revoke the principle of the supremacy of the law. There is not a single problem which this law could serve to resolve. The aims of its initiators were purely political and economic, and the formulations it contains deliberately produce legal uncertainty. In effect, the law 'On Foreign Agents' presumes the guilt of artificially chosen groups of organisations [...]".
Russian NGOs have repeatedly expressed disagreement with the law and have appealed against it, including to the European Court of Human Rights. Human rights activists highlight the fact that the law is obviously discriminatory in nature and has extremely negative historical connotations.
However, the current intimidation of NGOs in Russia continues.
Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts
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