Russia: Unprecedented level of harassment against Memorial as “foreign agent”

October 3, 2013

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), reports on 2 October 2013 on the ongoing judicial proceedings against the Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” (ADC Memorial), which has now become the first NGO in Russia facing both administrative and civil proceedings for the same “offence” on the basis of the law on so-called “foreign agents”. The main “offence” ADC Memorial would have allegedly committed would be the submission of an alternative report to the United Nations (UN) Committee Against Torture (CAT) in November 2012, with the support of FIDH. The Prosecutor argues that ADC Memorial is involved in political activities and receives foreign funding, and that it should therefore register as a ‘foreign agent’. He further claims that ADC Memorial’s report entitled ‘Roma, migrants, activists: victims of police abuse’ is of a political nature and can reach a group of ‘unidentified citizens’, whose interests must be protected through the registration of ADC Memorial as a ‘foreign agent’. These unfounded accusations are even more arbitrary since the report in question was written and presented before the introduction of the changes into the Law on NGOs to include that NGOs carrying out “political activities” shall be registered as foreign agents.

This harassment is part of an unprecedented campaign against the organisation. Over the past months, ADC Memorial has indeed been facing four cases brought by: the Prosecutor of the Admiralty District of St Petersburg (based on the Administrative Code); the Prosecutor’s Office of the Admiralty District of St Petersburg (based on the Code on Civil Procedure); the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters ; and the Federal Service on Customers’ Rights Protection and Human Well-being Surveillance.

On April 30, 2013, the Prosecutor of the Admiralty District of St Petersburg had brought the administrative case against ADC Memorial on the basis of Article 19.34, part 1 and 2 (i.e. failing to register as a “foreign agent” and not placing the status of ‘foreign agent’ on its publications) of the Administrative Code. This was preceded by an inspection of the premises of the organisation.

The report of the Observatory (link below) contains interesting details on these proceedings.

The organisation is now simultaneously facing two trials: the next hearing on the civil charges will be heard on October 14, when a verdict is expected, while another hearing related to the case on administrative charges will be heard on October 7 before the same court, targeting both ADC Memorial and its Director, Ms. Olga Abramenko. We are deeply concerned about the ongoing judicial harassment against ADC Memorial, which only aims at sanctioning its human rights activities, and notably its reports on human rights violations. We call for a strong reaction of the international community to denounce this unprecedented wave of harassment on the basis of the law on so-called ‘foreign agents’”, FIDH President Karim Lahidji said today. The cases brought against ADC Memorial are simply evidence of the escalating atmosphere of harassment against NGOs in the Russian Federation and aim at delegitimising and paralysing their work“, said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock. “Last week, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council adopted a strong resolution calling for an end to acts of harassment or reprisals against human rights defenders who cooperate with the UN, despite opposition by Russia, among other States. It is now time for Russia to abide by this resolution and prohibit all forms of intimidation against people for their work to promote human rights or ensure accountability for violations at the international level“.


Russian Federation: Unprecedented level of harassment against ADC “Memorial” on the basis of the law on “foreign agents” / October 2, 2013 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

One Response to “Russia: Unprecedented level of harassment against Memorial as “foreign agent””

  1. […] Russia: Unprecedented level of harassment against Memorial as “foreign agent” ( […]

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