Leading Russian human rights groups speak out for embattled NGO

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – Moscow, April 17, 2013) Heads of leading Russian NGOs disagree with accusations levelled by the authorities at the human rights association Golos facing a heavy fine.

“We think it is absurd to say that the organization that led the fight for fair elections in Russia is acting in the interests of foreign states and is a foreign agent,” said a statement signed, among others, by MHG (Moscow Helsinki Group) head Lyudmila Alekseyeva, leader of the For Human Rights movement Lev Ponomarev, one of the heads of the Memorial centre Oleg Orlov, head of the Civic Assistance committee Svetlana Gannushkina.

“We strongly disagree that public control over the activities of politicians, parties and the authorities is a political activity,” the statement, distributed in Moscow on Wednesday (17 April), said.

“The authorities are apparently trying to disrupt any non-partisan efforts at civil control over elections,” the human rights activists, who are members of the independent human rights council of Russia, said.

The statement expresses solidarity with the Kostroma Centre for the Support of Public Initiatives and the Kostroma Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, against which the authorities have taken action over the law on foreign agents.

“We demand that the authorities should comply with recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council from 21 March 2012 with regard to “protection of human rights activists” and should stop discrimination against Russian non-government organizations and pressure on them,” the statement by leading Russian human rights campaigners said. (Passage omitted: background)