“Memorial” classified at ‘foreign agent’

Moscow’s Zamoskvorechye District Court classifies the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” as a “foreign agent”

Moscow, 23.05.2014

Moscow’s Zamoskvorechye District Court has rejected “Memorial’s” appeal and instead upheld the order issued by the Public Prosecutor to the organisation in Spring 2013. The District Court concluded that “Memorial” had broken the law on NGOs, and so had to be registered as a “foreign agent”.

According to ITAR-TASS, a senior lawyer acting for “Memorial”, Kirill Koroteev, confirmed that the organisation did have access to foreign funding, but stressed that it did not engage in any kind of political activity, nor seek to influence public opinion and Government decision-making. Koroteev stated that “the term “foreign agent” implies that an organisation acts on behalf of a funding sponsor, but not in anyone’s interests”.

An expert from “Memorial”, Furkat Tishaev, drew the Court’s attention to the negative connotation of the term “foreign agent”. A representative of the Public Prosecutor’s office stated that “Memorial’s” activities had been judged as being those of a “foreign agent” as a result of their NGO audit undertaken the previous year, adding that “NGO objections about the negative meaning of “foreign agents” were unjustified.”

The Court had earlier deferred consideration of appeals from “Memorial”, the Association “Voice” and “Public Verdict” fund pending a decision on the “foreign agents” law from the European Court of Human Rights and Russia’s Constitutional Court. The latter had previously decided that the disputed aspects of the “foreign agents” law were not in breach of the Russian Constitution.

The Zamoskvorechye District Court is this very day hearing appeals from “Voice”, the independent NGO “Lawyers for Constitutional Rights and Freedoms” and the “Public Verdict” foundation.

Author: Georgy Ivanushkin


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