20 October 2015
Source: HRO.org (info)
At the event, which took place this summer, musicians, dancers and activists all from Nizhny Novgorod spoke out against the designation of the Dront environmental centre as a so-called ‘foreign agent’, according to the Article 20 website, as reported by NN.ru.
In a letter addressed to Natalya Alkhimovich, the regional head of Roskomnador for the Volga Federal District [of which NN.ru has a copy], acting head of Centre-E, Mikhail Tarasov, said that representatives of NGOs and of opposition groups including the Nizhny Novgorod Civil Movement, along with activists from the former Left Front and Dront Eco-Centre, as well as music and theatre groups from Nizhny Novgorod, were present at the concert this August.
Mikhail Tarasov stated that various banners with the Eco-Centre’s symbol on were used at the concert, and that badges were distributed with the slogan “Will the Dodo become extinct?” Don’t hold your breath!” [playing on the word ‘Dront’, the organisation’s name - trans.]. These materials did not mention the fact that the Eco-Centre is designated as an organisation which fulfils the functions of a ‘foreign agent’. Tarasov noted that the same information is also missing from the “About the Eco-Centre” page on the organization’s website, and one of Dron’ts publications also posted there. Consequently, as head of the police ministry’s Centre-E for Nizhny Novgorod, he asked “for the purpose of preventing extremist activity and reducing the level of inter-ethnic and inter-religious tension” for an investigation into whether Dront Eco-Centre had committed an “administrative offence”.
Last week, Askhat Kaiumov, director of Dront Eco-Centre, was issued with a court summons for an administrative offence (“Breach of the law concerning the activities of an NGO which fulfils the function of a foreign agent”.
In a special statement, the International Memorial Society stressed that “[...] The law ‘On Foreign Agents’ is in essence incompatible with the rule of law. There is not a single problem which this law could serve to resolve. The aims of its initiators were purely political and opportunistic, and the formulations it contains deliberately produce legal uncertainty. In effect, the law ‘On Foreign Agents’ introduces a presumption of guilt for an artificially chosen set 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, discrimination is continuing against NGOs in Russia.
Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts
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