Tatiana Kosinova: A postscript to the Prosecutor General's PR offensive

posted 16 Jul 2013, 12:41 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Jul 2013, 12:47 ]
12 July 2013

Source: HRO.org (info)
Tatiana Kosinova: On 9 July and 10 July 2013, Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika presented to the world his account of the unscheduled mass inspections of NGOs that were launched by his department four months previously in February 2013.

On 9 July Chaika reported to his direct superior, on whose orders the prosecutors' inspections were obliged to begin. On 10 July he spoke at a meeting of the Federation Council held in St. Petersburg.

Chaika's speech in St. Petersburg was reproduced in varying amounts and with differing interpretations by hundreds of media outlets.

So what was it? The answer is simple: a PR offensive for a dubious operation. Not every piece of paper with the word 'Law' printed on it has anything to do with justice (I am citing my colleague Aleksandr Cherkasov without checking the original source).

A series of repressive and discriminatory Putin "laws", released by the "rabid printer" in 2012 (the law on NGO foreign agents, amendments to the law on defamation, protest rallies, etc.), as has already been stated, is a "dispute over legitimacy."

Legitimate authorities who feel they are legitimate do not act this way; they don't crack down on opponents and all potential critics, they don't restrict autonomy and they don't reduce the space for freedom. It's a clichéd axiom of political theory: the less legitimate a regime is, the more repressive it is.

The prosecutor said that he had found 22 foreign agents in the country, adding that in reality there were 10 times that number. The 22 unmasked NGO agents were not named, though Chaika clearly hinted that Golos, Agora, the Institute for Freedom of Information Development and Memorial were among those uncovered.

Prosecutor General Chaika directly distorted facts known to the Public Prosecutor's Office about measures carried out by the St. Petersburg Memorial Society. He said that "in 2012, of the 400,000 roubles received from foreign sources to implement a programme "Looking after the Elderly" the St. Petersburg Memorial Historical, Educational, Human Rights and Charitable Organisation used only 15% for the designated purpose. The remaining funds were spent on wages, office rental and other purposes" (quoted from a transcript of the St. Petersburg TV channel 100-TV).

These "facts" are not consistent with what actually happened. Furthermore, the Public Prosecutor's Office has all the paperwork for the St. Petersburg Memorial Society for 2012. Yesterday the St. Petersburg Memorial Society held a meeting of its board, at which a statement was adopted on this issue. It will be published today.

So what did Chaika fail to mention?

He failed to mention that dozens of leading NGOs in the country are turning to the courts to challenge the actual inspections that have been carried out on them. There are no prosecutors at these court sessions or they show up and say they are not ready for the process, so the judges adjourn them. The next court sessions are scheduled for July. The timetable is available here.

That several NGOs refused to allow the inspectors access to their offices.

He hid the fact that his department was not prepared for the inspections: in St. Petersburg, for example, the inspections were carried out by prosecutor's assistants from other districts (in the Central District from Krasnogvardeisky District, in Admiralteysky District from Nevsky District), who did not have confirmation of their authority.

Yuri Chaika of course did not mention that in April-May 2013 the prosecutors were so paralysed by the inspections that they were forced to mobilise all the students from all the law faculties to go through the tons of copies of documents requested from NGOs as part of the spot inspections. That was all they spent their time doing.

The Prosecutor General did not say one word for example about the fact that the court of second instance in St. Petersburg rejected a decision by the Prosecutor of the Admiralteysky District to bring charges against Memorial under Article 19.34 of the Administrative Offences Code for failing to register as a foreign agent.

He did say, meanwhile, that the final stage of the inspection of the Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg only began on 6 June...

Chaika did not say much about the many circumstances and facts which present the inspections in an unfavourable light and reveal the real, rather than touched-up, picture; which uncover the reality instead of falsifying and imitating what is going on.

This is the question that should be put to his superior: how suited is Chaika to carry out his duties? There are very many doubts.

Tatiana Kosinova

Member of the board of the St. Petersburg Memorial Society,
Co-founder of the Memorial Research and Information Centre,
Chief Editor of cogita.ru

Source: Cogita.ru