23 October 2013
Source: HRO.org (info)
Agora Human Rights Association sent the presidential administration and the Federation Council a non-governmental report on the results of the inspections conducted by prosecutors of NGOs in 2013. The main conclusion of the report is that Prosecutor General Yury Chaika is not able to control and oversee the work of lower-level prosecutors, and that his false, contradictory and inconsistent statements and actions undermine the authority of the Russian Federation as a whole, both within the country and internationally. The study confirmed that the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation does not in practice have authority even within the prosecutorial system, the human rights defenders point out.
"The statements by the Prosecutor General to the effect that there are numerous NGOs engaged in political activity which receive foreign funding were not confirmed, but on the contrary were disproved by the results of the prosecutors’ own inspections and the decisions of the courts,” the authors of the report write. “On the basis of a false understanding of the interests of the prosecutorial service, violating en masse the rights and lawful interests of Russian citizens and their associations, the Prosecutor General is trying to create an appearance of the effectiveness of the work of the prosecutors, and by this means is misleading the Federation Council and public opinion.
As Yury Chaika has himself stated, about one thousand NGOs have been inspected. Such a major, simultaneous inspection not only of non-profit organizations but of legal persons in general had never happened before in the modern history of Russia. Moreover, the Prosecutor’s Office engaged other official bodies with functions of oversight in the inspections, including the FSB, the Ministry of the Interior, the Anti-Extremism Centre, the Federal Agency for the Quality of Consumer Goods, the Fire Inspectorate, the Federal Communications Agency, the Federal Tax Agency, the Ministry of Justice, the Federal Migration Agency, and the Federal Finance Inspectorate.
As a result, prosecutors brought administrative charges against 10 NGOs and their leaders for allegedly violating the law on ‘foreign agents’ on the grounds that they allegedly are engaged in political activities while not having registered as ‘foreign agents’. Eight of these cases have been dismissed by the courts which found a large number of violations committed by the prosecutors.
Decisions of the courts have entered into force only in the case of the Kostroma Centre for the Support of Civic Initiatives in relation to the NGO and its leader. Funding of this NGO from the moment that the ‘foreign agent’ law entered into force has been 420,000 roubles. At the same time, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has declared that ‘evidence of political activities and documental confirmation of foreign funding amounting to more than 6 billion roubles has been found with regard to 215 NGOs.” This statement has not been confirmed by the facts and does not correspond to the real situation, the authors of the non-governmental report conclude.
At the present time, not a single NGO which has received a formal notice or warning from the prosecutors, or against which administrative charges have been brought, has registered itself as a ‘foreign agent’. The Kostroma Centre for Civic Initiatives has appealed to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, which at the moment is considering the case. The complaint by the head of the Kostroma non-profit has been supported by Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, who has also appealed to the Constitutional Court on this case.
The report by Agora analyzes all the cases brought against NGOs and the grounds on which they could be closed. In conclusion, the human rights defenders expressed their support for the bill submitted to the State Duma which proposes to transfer the right of appointment of prosecutors in the Russian regions to the president of Russia.
The text of the report can be read on the website of Agora Human Rights Association.
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