MINELRES: UNITED: Russian-Chechen Friendship Society closed by Russian State

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Feb 12 07:59:43 2007


Original sender: UNITED <donotreply@unitedagainstracism.org>


E-NEWS 4/2/2007: Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, long-time supporter
of the UNITED network, closed by Russian State

Dear friends and colleagues,

Bad news arrived at the UNITED secretariat these days: the
Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), long-time supporter of the
UNITED network and active in peace and reconciliation work has been
forbidden by Russian authorities due to ³extremist² activities.

The Nizhny Novgorod-based RCFS, which monitors the human rights
situation in the North Caucasus and undertakes humanitarian initiatives
for individuals affected by the armed conflict in Chechnya, has found
itself under suspicion by the Russian government for a long time.

UNITED, the European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in
support of migrants and refugees can not accept this act of
arbitrariness against an internationally renowned organisation in the
context of an ever worsening situation for NGOs in Russia.

Please see their statement below for background information.

You could address a protest to President Putin and to the heads of your
own state with demands to impose pressure on their Russian colleague. It
will be important to appeal to Angela Merkel as she is the chair of the
EU and G8.

Send your protests (sample letter below) to
President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin The Kremlin, Moscow, Russian
Federation
Fax: +7-495-910 07 38; +7-495-606 51 73
(and to the heads of your own state, and to Angela Merkel as EU Chair)
 
The RCFS address for solidarity messages is:
RCFS
Korolenko St. 26  - Nizhny Novgorod
Russia 603 000

e-mail address is friend@sinn.ru or o.chelysheva@yahoo.com
(A cc to UNITED is appreciated)

Geert Ates
UNITED


***forwarded message below***

RCFS IS NOT GOING TO STOP OUR HUMAN RIGHTS, PEACEMAKING AND HUMANITARIAN
ACTIVITIES

Open statement by the RCFS on the decision taken by the Russian Supreme
Court to liquidate it

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 us to announce this big news about our act of repudiation
from our friend and colleague in public. It would have been dishonorable
for us.

The proceedings at the Supreme Court were observed by representatives of
the 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 court session. There were also observers from Russian human
rights organizations and journalists. 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. 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.

We have been supported by more than hundred public figures from some
twenty countries situated on all the continents. More than one hundred
Russian human rights 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
somebodyıs evil intention to discredit them in the eyes of their free
world counterparts when murders of dissident politicians and journalists
in the contemporary Russia are raised at the international fora from
time to time. They have got used to avoiding answering unsuitable
questions about Chechnya 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.  

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 Society.

The liquidation ruling came into force immediately after the judge had
read it out. At present, the inter-regional public association
Russian-Chechen Friendship Society has stopped their activities as a
Russian legal entity. However, it doesnıt mean that we, members of the
Russian-Chechen Friendship 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 Chelysheva and Tatiana Banina being
board members. We have Nizhny Novgorod Foundation for Promoting
Tolerance established in Nizhny Novgorod and another regional Tolerance
association was registered in Chechnya a few days ago. We are continuing
our projects - informational, humanitarian and the legal project 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 and 11 of the European Convention.

Stanislaw Dmitrievskiy,
Executive director of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society

Oksana Chelysheva,
Editor of the Russian-Chechen Information Agency


People should address their protests only to President Putin and to the
heads of their states with demands to impose pressure on their Russian
colleague. It will be important to appeal to Angela Merkel as she is the
chair of the EU and G8.

Sample letter:
I urge you and your government, to respect and support the work of human
rights defenders in the Russian Federation, who peacefully exercise
their right to freedom of expression and carry out legitimate and
valuable work.
In particular I am concerned about attempts to close the
non-governmental organization Russian Chechen Friendship Society, which
monitors the human rights situation in the North Caucasus and undertakes
humanitarian initiatives for individuals affected by the armed conflict
in Chechnya.
Therefore, I respectfully call on you and the government of the Russian
Federation:
* to allow the Russian Chechen Friendship Society to freely conduct
their legitimate and valuable work; 
* to refrain from prosecuting members of the RCFS for their peaceful
exercise of the right to freedom of expression;
* to review the implementation of the restrictive new NGO legislation; 
* to make a public statement of support for human rights defenders and
independent journalists.
 
President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
The Kremlin, Moscow, Russian Federation
Via facsimile: +7-495-910 07 38; +7-495-606 51 73
 
Our address for solidarity messages is
Russia 603 000
Nizhny Novgorod
Korolenko St. 26
 
e-mail address is friend@sinn.ru or o.chelysheva@yahoo.com
 
The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society members will appreciate if you
keep them informed about your joining to the campaign of support.
--

***********************************************************
We depend on YOUR help in 2007!

UNITED is not rich and has no stable income!
Though far most of the work at the UNITED secretariat is done voluntary
- still money is needed to keep the network functioning in 2007 and to
secure the cooperation and information flow throughout Europe.

Your donation is most welcome:
- in cash to UNITED Postbus 413 NL-1000 AK Amsterdam
- by bank (preferable) to:
UNITED, Postbus 413 NL-1000 AK Amsterdam
Account: IBAN NL77PSTB0002343715, BIC: PSTB NL2A - Bank: Postbank,
Postbus 1800, NL-1000 BV Amsterdam
(From NL: postbank 2343715)

***********************************************************

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----

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Postbus 413   -  NL 1000 AK Amsterdam - phone +31-20-6834778  -  fax
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