Court confirms Ryazan Memorial is not engaged in political activity, but finds no violation of organization's rights

posted 25 Oct 2013, 09:06 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 25 Oct 2013, 09:58 ]
22 October 2013 

Source: (info)
The grounds on which the Sovetsky district court in Ryazan based its decision of 16 October dismissing the suit, brought by Ryazan Memorial Society against the actions of the region’s Public Prosecutor’s Office, have been published.

On 16 October Ryazan’s Sovetsky district court dismissed a suit brought by Ryazan Memorial Society. The NGO had demanded that the warning with which it had been issued by prosecutors should be declared unlawful and quashed. The document issued to Ryazan Memorial on the basis of an inspection conducted by Ryazan region prosecutors in April 2013 stated that the charter of the organization ‘in practice declared it possible for the organization to engage in political activity’ and on this basis the prosecutors had issued a warning that such activity was impermissible.

The court’s legal reasoning behind this judgment stresses: "neither each point of the charter of Ryazan Memorial Society which are in dispute taken separately, nor all the points taken together, give grounds to consider that the charter of Ryazan Memorial Society in fact constitutes political activity". Moreover, as the judgment notes, the prosecutors’ representative “did not present the court with convincing evidence confirming the preparation of unlawful actions containing signs of extremism that served as the basis for the warning".

"For this reason the court comes to the conclusion that the possibility that Ryazan Memorial Society might conduct political activity is a supposition for which no evidence of actual conduct of such activity was presented to the court, the warning was issued to the leadership of the Ryazan Memorial Society in violation of the essential condition that there should be evidence of preparations to carry out unlawful actions of an extremist nature,” the court’s judgment reads.

At the same time, the judge argues that the warning which is being contested “is based on the supposition that violations of the law are impermissible, that is, it is a preventive measure, and consequently does not violate the rights and freedoms of the applicant, does not create obstacles to their realization, and does not place any additional obligations on the applicant.”

A lawyer from Ryazan Memorial Society, Petr Ivanov, has commented on the court’s judgment. “Despite the fact that the decision has not been in our favour, the legal reasoning on which the court based its decision to all intents and purposes supports our position that the warning was issued in violation of the law. The court also came to the conclusion that Ryazan Memorial Society is not engaged in political activity: such activity is not included in the organization’s charter and is not confirmed by concrete actions that would give grounds to be considered political in nature. At the same time, the court indicates that the warning does not violate our rights and does not impose any limitations on our future activities, and on this point we do not agree with the ruling. In legal language, the court dismissed our complaint on the grounds of the “insignificance of the implications of the warning.” However, since we do not know precisely which actions the prosecutor warned us not to engage in, the risk of negative consequences for our organization is quite high.”

At present Ryazan Memorial is preparing to lodge an appeal against the decision of the Sovetsky district court.