Russian NGO Agora wins Rafto prize but has to refuse the money

September 25, 2014

The Russian human rights group Agora, which played a key role in defending one of the jailed members of Pussy Riot, has won Norway’s Rafto Prize for human rights defenders. [An Agora lawyer, Irina Khrunova, helped secure the release of Yekaterina Samutsevich, who was sentenced to two years in jail in 2012 for the feminist group’s “punk prayer” protest against President Vladimir Putin].”The award is a recognition of their relentless and professional work to defend the right to fair trial and other human rights in a Russia where organisations and individuals are subjected to increasing pressure from the country’s authorities” the Bergen-based Rafto Foundation said on Thursday. The Agora Association – a network of 35 lawyers across Russia – was founded by human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov in 2005. It provides legal help to mainly human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists.

The group was forced to turn down $20,000 in prize money, according to the Rafto foundation due to a 2012 law – which Agora has challenged in the courts – that requires organisations with international funding to register as “foreign agents”.

via Russian lawyers win Norwegian rights prize.

for more info on the award: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/rafto-prize

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