Memorial human rights center contests in court demand to register as foreign agent

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – MOSCOW, May 29, 2013) Memorial human rights center has filed a complaint with Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky Court to contest the demand of a Moscow prosecutor’s office to register as a foreign agent.

“Memorial states in the lawsuit that the conclusions of the prosecutor’s office on the organization’s activities are groundless and that the information, on which the request of the prosecutor’s office was based on, is questionable,” Memorial press secretary Yulia Klimova told Interfax on Wednesday.

“Memorial also says that it is impossible to apply the law on foreign agents because it violates the organization’s right for freedom of association and freedom of opinion,” Klimova said.

Klimova said that on April 29, the prosecutor’s office issued a request of the results of an inspection demanding Memorial to eliminate violations of the law on non-governmental organizations.

“In the opinion of the prosecutor’s office, the human rights center is involved in so-called political activities, which combined with foreign financing leads to the necessity to register as a foreign agent. Memorial has repeatedly said that the inspection was illegal,” Klimova said.

Memorial center deals in particular with human rights in the North Caucasus. The center is a part of Memorial historical, enlightening and human rights society.

Prosecutors, the Justice Ministry and Tax Service are holding large-scale inspections of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in Russia. The inspections are related to the law obliging NGOs receiving foreign grants to register as foreign agents. Leading human rights organizations boycott this law. NGOs said they feared they could be closed.

The Justice Ministry’s press office said on March 25 that large-scale inspections of NGOs were being held to determine foreign agents.

Head of Memorial center Alexander Cherkasov said on April 30 that the prosecutor’s office demanded Memorial center register as a foreign agent. “We will contest the conclusions of the prosecutor’s office,” Cherkasov said.