the Crimea and Foreign Agents: a T-shirt tells it all

April 1, 2014

As a result of the annexation of the Crimea, the Russian Procurator-General has found himself in a legal conundrum. The local NGO “Crimea Human Rights Centre” [CHRC] had for years militated in favour of the rights of the Russian speaking majority and insisted on the right to self-determination already in 2005 as the only way to secure their rights.

As the NGO receives funding from abroad (mostly from the Russian government but also from a rich businessman in Abkhazia), it had been forced on 2 February 2014 to register under the new Ukrainian “Foreign Agents law” [see my earlier post:].

As a result, the members of the CHRC had even been forced to wear T-shirts with the text: “Foreign Agent”. With the integration of the Crimea, several staff members had stopped wearing the hated T-shirts but a certain, Aleksey Baburinko, one of the few Ukrainian human rights defenders left in the Crimea, lodged a complaint saying the CHRC still fell under the law on Foreign Agents, “either the Ukrainian or the Russian version”.

Today, 1 April 2014, the local Prosecutor’s office in Sebastopol issued a statement that wearing the T-shirts was no longer necessary but that the issue of registration would be referred to the new Russian Minister for Crimean Affairs, Oleg Savelyev, who has just been appointed.


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