Perm Human Rights Centre must prove it is not a ‘foreign agent’ in two courts at the same time

posted 17 Jul 2013, 14:14 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Jul 2013, 14:15 ]
17 July 2013 

Source: (info
On 18 July the city of Perm’s Lenin district court is to consider the case Perm region prosecutors have brought against Perm Human Rights Centre for failing to register as a foreign agent. 

In a statement submitted to the court, Perm Human Rights Centre argues that the prosecutors failed to provide any evidence that the organizaitons is engaged in political activities. Perm Human Rights Centre insists that, firstly, it has not organized any political events; secondly, that it does not receive money from foreign states. The only source of funding of the Perm Human Rights Centre has been from the UN which has supported a project run by the Centre ‘Protecting the right to information in Perm region’. The case is to be heard by Judge Natalya Ivanova. 

The same day, a magistrates court is to hear the case of the on-going administrative violation by Perm Human Rights Centre which has refused to comply with the above notice, which it has contested, to register as a ‘foreign agent’. Perm region prosecutors have charged the organization under Article 19.34, Section 1, of the Administrative Code (‘A non-profit organization that is acting as a foreign agent without entering the appropriate register’). The penalties under this article are a fine of up to 300,000 roubles for the head of the organization, and a fine of up to 500,000 roubles for the organization itself. 

‘The Perm Human Rights Centre is one of the few organizations that provide free legal aid to citizens,’ comments Sergei Trutnev, a lawyer working with Perm Human Rights Centre. ‘If the court finds that Perm Human Rights Centre is a foreign agent, that its legal consultations constitute political activity, then we shall be obliged to stop this work. But who will win from this? It is completely obvious to everyone that Perm Human Rights Centre is not acting in the interests of a foreign state. If the prosecutors for some reason have decided to close down our organization, then it would be more honest to do this openly without alleging that we are engaged in stupid violations that do not exist.’ 

The first of the cases will be heard at 9.30 am in Lenin district couxrt (Courtroom 405, 11-A, Perm Street); the second at Lenin district magistrates’ court No. 138 (1, Komsomolsky Prospect). Moreover, magistrate Svetlana Voitko refused to move the second court hearing. It remains to be seen how the second hearing can take place in the absence of the lawyer acting for Perm Human Rights Centre, Sergei Trutnev, who will attend the first court hearing.