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Re: [ymdchat] Democracy Alert: Russian-Chechen Friendship Society Forced to Close
Jan 29th, 2007 - 06:12:09
We too strongly condemn the closure of the Russian-Chechen Friendship
Society and call upon the Russian government to uphold the right to
association and freedom of expression.
On 25 Jan:20:50 -0000, Marta Diez wrote:
> Here are the details on that democracy alert:
> Democracy Alert: Russian-Chechen Friendship Society Forced to Close
> On January 23, the Federal Supreme Court of Russia denied an appeal of a
> lower court's order to close the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society
> The RCFS, based in Nizhny Novgorod, was one of the few remaining
> organizations in Russia that was reporting on human rights conditions in
> Chechnya and the North Caucasus. The RCFS has issued a press release
> (reproduced below) on the court's decision and its consequences. According
> to Human Rights First, Russian authorities have manipulated the law to
> the organization to close.
> The RCFS was closed down in October last year largely on the basis of the
> new Anti-Extremism and NGO laws that made it illegal for an organization
> be headed by a person convicted of "extremist" activities. The Executive
> Director of the RCFS, Stanislav Dmitrievskii, had been convicted on
> 3, 2006, on "race hate" charges for publishing non-violent articles by
> Chechen separatist leaders.
> For the last few years, the RCFS has been the subject of intense
> and harassment. More than a dozen employees, volunteers, and journalists
> associated with the RCFS or their family members have been persecuted,
> beaten, or killed. In 2005, the organization was subjected to legal
> proceedings by both the tax authorities and the registration department of
> the Ministry of Justice. At the same time, both Stanislav Dmitrievskii and
> another staff member, Oksana Chelysheva, were the subjects of constant
> harassment and threatened with death.
> Amnesty International and Human Rights First have condemned the closure of
> the RCFS and call on the Russian government to uphold basic rights of
> freedom of expression and association. Others around the world, including
> leading Russian and international figures, such as Nobel Prize laureates
> Elie Wiesel and Harold Pinter, have appealed to the Russian authorities
> against the closure of the RCFS.
> The RCFS intends to appeal to the European Court on Human Rights claiming
> that Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention have been violated.
> To read the statement by Amnesty International, go to:
> To send a petition to President Putin through Human Rights First, go to:
> To read a statement to President Putin by over 100 intellectuals and
> politicians in support of the RCFS, go to:
> To read the US Congressional Letter to President Putin, go to:
> Open statement by the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society on the decision
> taken by the Russian Supreme Court to liquidate it.
> RCFS IS NOT GOING TO STOP OUR HUMAN RIGHTS, PEACEMAKING AND HUMANITARIAN
> On 23 January 2007 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation upheld the
> decision of the Regional Court of the Russian Federation to liquidate our
> organization, the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society.
> We were originally ordered to close down in October last year on the basis
> of a new NGO and anti-extremism law that made it illegal for an NGO to be
> headed by a person convicted of "extremist" activities. The Russian
> authorities wanted us to denounce the acts of our chair Stanislaw
> Dmitirevskiy and to remove him from our board. Furthermore, they expected
> to announce this big news about our act of repudiation from our friend and
> colleague in public. It would have been dishonorable for us. Neither
> in Nizhny Novgorod nor in the North Caucasus permitted such a disgraceful
> option of saving our bacon by sacrificing our friend.
> The proceedings at the Supreme Court were observed by representatives of
> European Commission Delegation as well as embassies of the USA, Germany,
> Austria, Portugal, Lithuania, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Representatives
> of the Amnesty International and Human Rights watch also attended the
> session. There were also observers from Russian human rights
> including Memorial human rights center, Civic Assistance Committee and For
> Civic Assistance Foundation. There were several journalists working for
> foreign media outlets as well as for "Echo of Moscow" radio. All of them
> became witnesses of absolute disregard to the law.
> Although we have expected this outcome, the undisguised farce of
> "considering" the appeal at the Supreme Court that the Russian authorities
> didn't hesitate to organize in presence of international observers was
> absolutely shocking. Although we did our utmost to prevent Russia from
> losing its face once again at the world scene, no miracle is possible
> the current circumstances in Russia. We, the Russian-Chechen Friendship
> Society, have been liquidated as a Russia-based organization. Thus, the
> Russian authorities have proved once again that they remain absolutely
> indifferent to all voices of protest, regardless of what countries people
> who speak up in defense of liberal values and democracy come from or what
> their level of recognition in the world community.
> We have been supported by more than a hundred public figures from some
> twenty countries, including Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United
> Kingdom, France, Slovakia, Serbia, Montenegro, Estonia, the Czech
> Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Norway, Ukraine, Turkey, Mexico, Belgium,
> Finland, Portugal, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, the USA, Canada,
> Philippines, Syria, and Zimbabwe. More than one hundred Russian human
> people and journalists have signed their Open Letter to President Putin in
> support of our organization.
> It is evident that the so-called positive image of Russia is also of no
> concern for the present Kremlin authorities. They keep complaining about
> somebody's evil intention to discredit them in the eyes of their free
> counterparts when murders of dissident politicians and journalists in the
> contemporary Russia are raised at the international fora from time to
> They have got used to avoiding answering unsuitable questions about
> for so long that now they feel free to mockingly neglect them. There has
> been no other response from the Russian authorities to the claim of the
> international public figures to the murder of Politkovskaya but mere words
> about continuing investigation. The Russian authorities have responded to
> the concerns expressed about the ruling to liquidate the Russian-Chechen
> Friendship Society on absurd extremist charges with the final decision to
> crack down on us.
> The court session held at the Supreme Court yesterday was a farce.
> the hearing was postponed until late afternoon without warning. It was an
> obvious attempt to get rid of observers but all of them were at the door
> the Supreme Court at 3 pm. Then officers of justice claimed that there was
> not enough room for all the observers in a tiny court room where the
> was organized. However, it turned out that they had deliberately brought a
> group of people who just occupied the seats in an attempt not to let
> observers attend the trial. When those people were asked what organization
> they represented, they mockingly responded, "No organization. We are just
> public". Later two of those people confessed that some of them were
> of the Law Academy and that they had been ordered to stay in the court
> All the arguments of the defense side presented by our lawyer Anna
> Stavitskaya and Stanislaw Dmitrievskiy were ignored by the judges whereas
> the prosecutor's side didn't offer any grounded proofs of extremism in
> actions of Stanislaw Dmitrievskiy in his positions of the chief editor of
> the newspaper and the executive director of the Russian-Chechen Friendship
> The liquidation ruling came into force immediately after the judge had
> it out. At present, the inter-regional public association Russian-Chechen
> Friendship Society has stopped their activities as a Russian legal entity.
> However, it doesn't mean that we, members of the Russian-Chechen
> Society, have ceased our work. Due to the circumstances, we have moved the
> legal entity to Finland. The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society in Europe
> has been registered there with Stanislaw Dmitrievskiy, Oksana Chelyshev,a
> and Tatiana Banina being board members. We have Nizhny Novgorod Foundation
> for Promoting Tolerance established in Nizhny Novgorod and another
> Tolerance association was registered in Chechnya a few days ago. We are
> continuing our projects informational, humanitarian and the legal
> on the tribunal - in spite of our innumerous problems.
> We are definitely going to appeal to the European Court on Human Rights in
> the liquidation ruling as we deal with obvious violations of Articles 10
> 11 of the European Convention.
> Stanislaw Dmitrievskiy,
> Executive director of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society
> Oksana Chelysheva,
> Editor of the Russian-Chechen Information Agency
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