NGOs Continue to Struggle in Court
Published: December 11, 2013 (Issue # 1790)
Three NGOs continued their struggle with prosecutors over accusations of being “foreign agents” in St. Petersburg this week, months after dozens of the organizations were inspected in March and April. The inspections followed President Vladimir Putin’s orders to enforce the 2012 law that demanded that NGOs receiving funding from abroad and involved in political activities to register as “foreign agents.”
Peterburgskaya Egida (St. Petersburg Aegis) had its activities suspended, while the Anti-Discrimination Center Memorial (ADC Memorial) and LGBT rights organization Vykhod (Coming Out) are being sued by prosecutors in new cases aimed at forcing them to register as “foreign agents” that will be heard later this month.
Due to the continued court cases, the organizations have had to halt some of their activities so as not to provide new grounds for charges to be brought against them.
Peterburgskaya Egida has become the first local NGO suspended as part of the “foreign agents” campaign. On Nov. 12, the Petrogradsky District court found the NGO guilty of “deliberately failing to provide a broad range of documents within the prosecutors’ inspection” and punished it by suspending its activities for 30 days.
Peterburgskaya Egida, which specializes in protecting the labor rights of the socially vulnerable, sent its employees on forced vacation and suspended its provision of free legal assistance to pregnant women, women with children, mothers of handicapped children and women retirees for a month.
According to the NGO’s head, Rima Sharifullina, the prosecutors first demanded that the organization present documents about its activities during an inspection in March, but failed to provide any legal grounds for the demand.
“They demanded the documents in March, then in April, then in August. Three times they demanded the documents, and three times we asked them to explain the grounds for the inspection. They failed to explain the grounds and simply filed an administrative case against us. The question is still whether we should present any documents without any grounds or accusations against us, or not.”
The organization is planning to resume its work when the suspension expires on Thursday, Dec. 12. If the St. Petersburg City Court does not grant Peterburgskaya Egida’s appeal to revoke the Petrogradsky District Court’s ruling, the organization will wait for further instructions from the prosecutor’s office, Sharifullina told The St. Petersburg Times on Monday.
Pages:  [2 ]