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NGO Forced to Shut Following Court Ruling

Published: January 15, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • A 2013 anti-fascist vigil on Pionerskaya Ploshchad in memory of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

The St. Petersburg-based Anti-Discrimination Center Memorial has closed its offices due to continued pressure from the authorities.

Most of its activities, however, are to be taken over by a new international organization, the NGO’s former program director Stephania Kulayeva told The St. Petersburg Times on Monday. The new organization is to be called ADC Memorial but will be based outside of Russia.

On Dec. 12, Leninsky District court judge Anna Moroz declared the NGO a “foreign agent,” the first such ruling in Russia since legislation passed in 2012 requiring any organization which received foreign funding and engaged in political activity to register as a foreign agent. Large-scale inspections of NGOs to determine compliance with the law began in March 2013.

The NGO’s report “Roma People, Migrants, Activists — Victims of Police Arbitrariness,” which was prepared by the organization for the 49th session of the UN Committee Against Torture in 2012, was used as the chief item of evidence against the organization.

“We have concluded all of our projects and let everyone go. ADC Memorial now exists as an ‘empty’ organization in the process of being closed,” Kulayeva said.

“It still exists legally, but is no longer functional. Our website and our ongoing work will continue under the name of ADC Memorial, but as an international organization based outside of Russia.

“We will continue to pursue ADC Memorial’s chief activities — mainly the defence of vulnerable groups such as the Roma and migrants as well as other minorities. We had to withdraw from several projects where we needed to work closely with state institutions, such as schools and universities, but they also won’t vanish, we simply won’t be the ones conducting them.”

According to Kulayeva, most of the group’s analytical and human rights advocacy work will be conducted via its website.

Kulayeva said she would appeal the Dec. 12 ruling with the St. Petersburg City Court in the near future.

“The bad news is that if the City Court agrees with the lower court’s ruling, we will face criminal prosecution,” she said.

“That means we either have to fulfil the requirements of the ruling or hurry to close [the organization].”

In a statement released on Dec. 31, 2013, ADC Memorial summed up the results of its activities for the nearly six years it had operated since opening in 2007.

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