08 February 2013, 14:00

Human rights defenders complain to ECtHR about law on foreign agents

11 Russian human rights organizations have filed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) the complaint against the law on non-commercial organizations. The human rights defenders believe that the requirement to get registered as "foreign agents" violates their right to freedom of association and freedom of speech and violates the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.

The complaint was filed to the ECtHR on February 6. The interests of the complainants were represented by lawyers of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre.

The complaint was signed by the "Vote" Foundation, the Saint Petersburg public human rights organization "Citizens Control", the Committee "Civil Assistance", the movement "For Human Rights", and the "Committee against Torture". Besides, the complaint was signed by representatives of the Ingush organization "Mashr" and the Human Rights Centre "Memorial", including its international office. The Moscow Helsinki Group, the Kaliningrad public organization "Ecological Protection!" and the Foundation for Protection of Rights and Freedoms of Citizens "Public Verdict" also directly participated in filing the complaint.

In case if the ECtHR refuses to consider the complaint, the human rights defenders intend to go to the Russian authorities; however, according to the opinion of Oleg Orlov, a member of the board of the HRC "Memorial", "this road will lead back to Strasbourg."

At the press conference held on February 7, the human rights defender has emphasized the complaint states that the law violates several articles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Oleg Orlov said that the first case of power pressure on human rights defenders was noted in Ingushetia. On October 12, 2012, Yuri Seryshev, Chief of FSB Department for Ingushetia, made a statement that the republic had non-commercial organizations falling under the term "a foreign agent". "One of them is the human rights organization 'Mashr'," Yuri Seryshev said.

"The law represents an opportunity for speculation of regional authorities to harass human rights organizations of Northern Caucasus, to discredit them and the Constitution of Russia," the "Caucasian Knot" was told by Magomed Mutsolgov, the leader of the organization "Mashr".

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