Police seal archives at Perm-36 museum

posted 26 Apr 2015, 10:03 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 26 Apr 2015, 10:15 ]
20 April 2015

Source: HRO.org (info
On 17 April 2015 police sealed the archives at the Perm-36 independent NGO in the building of the museum which shares the NGO's name.

This was reported by Novaya Gazeta newspaper which was quoting the Interfax news agency.

The sealed archives are kept in the museum's building in the village of Kuchino.

Tatiana Kursina, executive director of the Perm-36 NGO, said that staff of the NGO discovered last week that police had closed the archive building and were preventing access to it. "When we arrived we were not allowed in. We were told that the archives had been sealed by the police on the orders of someone who had asked for our activities to be inspected", said Kursina, according to Interfax.

She said that the archives contained all the work done over 20 years, as well as book-keeping records and documents intended for the state audit office. NGO staff were intending to take these documents to their office in Perm.

According to the press service of the regional branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, "police have begun an inspection of the Perm-36 archives". The spokesperson also said that the inspection was prompted by "an allegation made by a certain citizen". Tatiana Kursina added that she had been summoned to make a statement to police.

Meanwhile, also on 17 April 2015, the Perm Region Commercial Court refused to confiscate the bank accounts and property of the Perm-36 NGO on the basis of a request to do so by the Centre of Political Repression, the government body which now operates the Perm-36 museum. According to newspaper, the NGO has been asked to pay 1.4 million roubles as a fine for failing to returning property – the building which was the headquarters of the former prison colony for political prisoners – on time.

The court explained its decision by saying that the NGO was itself in process of being liquidated. The court session to examine this case will be held on 18 May.

Perm-36 NGO had already announced that its staff had been unable to access the NGO's archive since the summer of 2014. According to the organisation's website, on 24 June 2014 Natalya Semakova, the new director of the Memorial Complex of Political Repression, decided to seal all the complex's buildings, including its archives. Perm-36 NGO insists that the contents of the buildings – personal property, the organisation's own documentation and archives – do not belong to the state body.

In mid-March the Ministry of Justice began a "foreign agent" inspection at Perm-36 NGO. At that time, the Ministry of Justice justified that the inspection by saying it was prompted by an allegation "by certain concerned citizens". Two weeks before the inspection was announced, the NGO announced that it was going to close down. Perm-36 explained that it had taken this decision since it was impossible to work together with the Perm Region authorities.

Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts