Will the Memorial Human Rights Centre be fined for infringing the law on “foreign agents”?

posted 4 Sept 2015, 08:38 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 Sept 2015, 08:40 ]
2 September 2015

Source: HRO.org (info)
At ten o’clock on the 4th of September two administrative reports or protocols regarding the Memorial Human Rights Centre’s infringement of NGO law on foreign agents will be reviewed in Moscow’s judicial district No. 423 (Tverskii district, 3-Samotechny per., 12). The protocols, submitted by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) relate to Article 19.34, Section 2, of the Administrative Code on the distribution of materials without reference to the organization’s status as a ‘foreign agent’.

On 30th June the Memorial Human Rights Centre received a warning from the Ministry of Justice that, in not using the descriptor ‘foreign agent’ on two of its documents: “11 June, Report by Kirill Velikanov, and Discussion” and “Society can regenerate itself”, it had infringed the law on non-commercial organizations.

Both these documents were placed on the website of the International Memorial Historical, Educational, Human Rights and Charitable Society, prepared by staff of the International Society, and included under events organized by the International Society (as an organization). No one from the Memorial Human Rights Centre, either as a representative or in an individual capacity, participated in these events.

‘Although the Memorial Human Rights Centre was compulsorily included by the Ministry of Justice in “the register of organizations, serving the function of a foreign agent”, it in no way follows that we have to paste the brand “foreign agent” on the materials of OTHER organizations’ commented the chair of the Human Rights Centre’s Council, Aleksander Cherkassov - ‘there was a clear error in the implementation of a law which, incidentally, only further emphasizes the illegal character of the “law on foreign agents”. We wrote to the Ministry of Justice on this. No reply was forthcoming’.

A month later the Memorial Human Rights Centre received a letter from Roskomnadzor. Our representatives were invited to participate in the drawing up of administrative protocols relating to this “infringement” of the foreign agents law. Kirill Koroteev, lawyer for the Memorial Human Rights Centre, prepared written objections to this.

However, as of 13 August, no reports had appeared. Representatives of Memorial explained to the staff member of Roskomnadzor that the Memorial Human Rights Centre and the Memorial International Society are two separate organizations, two different legal entities, that the first of these is included in the register of “agents”, but the site belongs to the second; the events which are the subject of discussion are not in any way related to the Human Rights Centre. On the next day, the 14th August, the protocols materialized.

‘Truly, “like creates like” and they have tried to correct one bureaucratic error by another, even more outlandish’ – explains Cherkassov – ‘In the texts of the protocols they have simply added further “evidence” that two different legal entities – the Memorial Human Rights Centre and International Memorial – are almost one and the same legal entity, and the first must paste its “brand” on the materials of the second: the Human Rights Centre (an association of individuals) is one of the associations of the International Society; the Human Rights Centre works “in close contact” with the International Memorial Society and reports regularly to it; the Human Rights Centre and International Memorial Society have related contact data and similar logotypes, and, finally, Cherkassov, the chair of the Human Rights Centre’s Council, is a member of the board of the International Memorial Society. In his response to the protocols, Maksim Krupskii, lawyer, has demonstrated the obvious nonsense of these “arguments”’.

The protocols have been forwarded to the court.

Translated by Mary McAuley