UN experts asked to testify in Russian “foreign agent” trial
MOSCOW, May 7 (RAPSI) - The Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC Memorial), a Russian human rights NGO, has asked the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) to testify in court in connection with the case to label the NGO as a "foreign agent" in accordance with the federal law, the Agora advocacy group reported on its website on Tuesday.
Under a controversial law approved by President Vladimir Putin last year, NGOs funded from abroad and engaged in political activities are required to register as "foreign agents," or face fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,000) for NGOs and up to 300,000 rubles ($10,000) for NGO directors.
ADC Memorial was engaged in drafting a special report on the problems of vulnerable minorities such as migrant workers, Roma, and opposition activists abused by the police. Memorial Director Olga Abramenko personally presented the report at the forty-ninth CAT session. This fact is deemed by Russian officials to be political activity.
The Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) "Memorial" was founded to defend the rights of people at risk of discrimination. Memorial and partners conduct human rights related research and react to the findings accordingly by providing legal and psychological assistance.
Sweeping inspections of NGOs began in several Russian regions in late March 2013. Up to 2,000 rights groups and NGOs in Russia have been raided by prosecutors and other officials in recent weeks, according to some estimates.
Memorial Human Rights Center, ADC Memorial’s partner, was asked to register as a foreign agent in April. The center vowed to appeal the decision. The center's head, Alexander Cherkasov, believes that its initiatives against politically motivated administrative and criminal prosecution were seen as political activity.
In April prosecutors in Russia’s republic of Tatarstan ordered the Agora human rights group, which has provided legal assistance to people detained at anti-Kremlin protests, to register as a “foreign agent,” a demand it has dismissed as unlawful. Agora spokesman Dmitry Kolbasin confirmed that the organization received funding from abroad, but said the nature of its activities did not require it to register as a “foreign agent.”
In February eleven Russian NGOs, Agora and Memorial among them, lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) protesting against the “foreign agents” law.