Magistrates’ court takes the side of NGO in ‘foreign agent’ case

posted 17 Jul 2013, 14:12 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 Jul 2013, 06:20 ]
17 July 2013

Source: (info
Kommersant-Perm reports that on 17 July Perm's Lenin district magistrates’ court set a legal precedent. The court dismissed the administrative charges, entailing a fine of 400,000 roubles, brought by prosecutors against Perm Civic Chamber for refusing to register as a 'foreign agent'. The magistrate based the decision on lack of evidence for the alleged violation. 

According to Kommersant-Perm, the prosecution asserted that the NGO had received foreign funding after 20 November 2012 when the law on ‘foreign agents’ entered into force, and continued to work on a project funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, as well as under contract on a project implemented by Perm Human Rights Centre on funding from the UN Democracy Fund. 

The prosecutors considered that the founding charter of Perm Civic Chamber was sufficient proof of political activity, since it claimed the right of the organization to take part in public assemblies, rallies and pickets. 

In addition, Kommersant-Perm writes, the prosecutors considered that the publication on the NGO’s website of commentaries by the executive director of the NGO, Igor Averkiev, critical of the existing political and constitutional system of Russia and of the Political Council of Perm region’s governor, Viktor Basargin, constituted political activity. 

Representatives of Perm Civic Chamber, on the contrary, consider that the prosecutors failed to prove the organization was engaged in political activity. 

The lawyer acting for Perm Civic Chamber, Sergei Trutnev, argued that the law on ‘foreign agents’ is ‘incomplete’, since it does not contain an effective definition of the term ‘political activity.’ Igor Averkiev said in court that the publications on the website of Perm Civic Chamber were his personal views and did not reflect the position of the NGO itself. 

The court ruled in favour of the lawyers representing Perm Civic Chamber and dismissed the administrative charges brought against them. The prosecutors can appeal. 

On 17 July the same court was to rule in the case of the administrative charges brought against Grani Centre.