— 7 декабря 2016 г. —
On September 30, 2016 the Russian Ministry of Justice decided that International Memorial is an organization “performing the functions of a foreign agent.” This decision was based on the findings of an audit / inspection held at International Memorial. Since International Memorial had not voluntarily put itself on a list of organizations performing the functions of a foreign agent, the Ministry of Justice drew up a notice of violation and referred the case to court.
Today, on December 7, Tverskoy Court held a session as advised by the Ministry of Justice. As many people had anticipated, the court ordered International Memorial to pay RUB300,000 as a fine for not putting itself voluntarily on a list of foreign agent organizations.
In this situation the decision taken on December 7 by Tverskoy Court (which did not wait until the case will be tried but ruled that Memorial had breached the law and should pay a fine) looks particularly strange. Memorial now has to be involved in two litigations. We will challenge the decision of Tverskoy Court about the fine, and look forward to fair and unbiased treatment of our dispute with the Ministry of Justice by Zamoskvoretsky Court.
We would like to remind that Memorial is one of the oldest nongovernmental organizations in Russia. Its mission is to commemorate victims of political repression. We would like to remind that a “foreign agent” is one of the most common labels that stigmatized “enemies of the people” under Stalin and dissidents in later years. The label is back again and, as before, it is employed for political ends without any substantive charges against the work of organizations that are arbitrarily put on the list of organizations “performing the functions of a foreign agent.”
The court sided with the Ministry of Justice officials and ignored the position of the Constitutional Court. The latter stated in its Ruling No. 10-P dated April 8, 2014 that “in order to be treated as an organization performing the functions of a foreign agent, a nonprofit organization should be a Russian nonprofit organization, which means that international and foreign organizations, including their offices (branches) in the Russian Federation, may not be treated as organizations performing the functions of a foreign agent.”
The Ministry of Justice officials believe that the Constitutional Court loosely formulated its position while in reality it referred only to organizations that were established and registered abroad. The Ministry seems to believe that international organizations that are established and registered in Russia are “pseudo-international.”