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Prosecutors Fail to Brand NGO Foreign Agent

Published: July 10, 2013 (Issue # 1768)


Two St. Petersburg courts have refused to classify the Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC Memorial) as a foreign agent under recent legislation, the NGOs director Olga Abramenko said at a news conference on Wednesday, July 3.

On May 27, Judge Olga Glushanok dismissed charges against the NGO for not registering as a foreign agent and for not labeling a brochure containing ADC Memorials report for the UN Committee Against Torture as published by a foreign agent. The judge ruled that the charges were unsupported by the evidence at hand and returned the case to the prosecution for further investigation.

Later, prosecutors appealed to the Leninsky District Court, but their complaint was rejected on June 27.

On April 30, ADC Memorial became the citys first NGO to be prosecuted under the new foreign agents law, in force since November 21, 2012.

According to the law, NGOs that receive any funding from foreign sources and conduct political activities are required to register as foreign agents. Virtually all of Russias NGOs have refused to register, arguing that it would stigmatize them as acting on behalf of foreign governments. Human rights organizations across the world have criticized the law as an attempt by the Kremlin to stifle criticism under the guise of countering foreign influence.

In March and April, massive inspections of hundreds of NGOs across Russia were held. About 40 NGOs were inspected in St. Petersburg. According to Abramenko, a five-member team a prosecutor, two police officers as well as representatives of the Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection (Rospotrebnadzor) and the Emergency Services Ministry arrived at ADC Memorials offices for inspection.

Although originally claiming the inspection was conducted under counter-extremism legislation, the team examined documentation, software licenses, fire safety measures and even whether or not the NGOs employees had recently had chest x-rays as part of healthcare requirements, Abramenko said. They then ordered that more than 3,000 pages of documents be copied and submitted to prosecutors.

Eventually, prosecutors used the ADC Memorial report on human rights submitted for review by the U.N. Committee Against Torture as evidence, branding it political activities. According to prosecutors, the report, called Roma, Migrants, Activists: Victims of Police Abuse, contained calls for confrontation with the authorities. The organization responded that the publication only recommended the respect of human rights and the rule of Russian and international law.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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