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Agora Digest September 2011

“New Generation” 

Digest No. 8 (38) 

Agora Human Rights Association (September 2011) 

Topics in this issue: 

International News 
National News 
Development of Regional Organizations 
Court cases 
Top 10 materials in the media 

International News 
The Russian government presented a memorandum to the European Court of Human Rights on the case of Raduzhny Dom, a Tiumen-based NGO Tiumen that campaigns for the rights of sexual minorities. In the memorandum, Georgy Matiushkin, deputy minister of justice and the representative of Russia at the European Court, responded to the questions of the Strasbourg judges in the case of gay activist Aleksandr Zhdanov and the organization he leads. (Read more in Russian). 

On 23-24 September in St Petersburg, Damir Gainutdinov, legal analyst with Agora, read a paper on legal aspects of media election coverage at an international seminar “Coverage of Social and Political Issues in Print and Electronic Media” organized by the Alliance of Independent Regional Publishers and the Swedish media institute FOJO. From 24 September until 15 October Irina Khrunova, a lawyer with Agora, has been an intern with the leading Bulgarian lawyer and expert on the European Court of Human Rights, Yonko Grozev, in Sofia to develop Agora’s work in taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights. 

National News 
In September Agora, jointly with the blogger Aleksei Navalny and his RosPil project, ran a pilot campaign to check the self-evidently unfulfillable conditions set in an 85 million rouble tender by the Ministry of Health and Social Development. Aleksei Navalny sent a complaint about violations of the law by the Ministry, headed by Tatyana Golikova, to the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service; Agora sent a complaint to the Prosecutor General’s Office. Navalny also posted in his blog a detailed piece entitled RosPil on HIV, that brought 460 comments. 

Pavel Chikov was a member of the jury judging a national competition to find the best civil society success in Russia, entitled “Everything is Possible”, initiated by Perm Civic Chamber. 

On 26 September in Moscow Agora lawyer and legal analyst, Ramil Akhmetgaliev addressed a conference on “Prophylaxis of Socially-Significant Diseases Among Young People: Best Practice”, providing a review of the legal framework in Russia. The conference was organized by the FOCUS-MEDIA Foundation for Social Development and Health Protection, and the dance4life (Russia) network that brings together a number of organizations. 

On 24-25 September in Moscow Dmitry Kolbasin, who heads Agora’s information department and is chief editor of the Open Information Agency (, co-led a workshop at the Humanist Research & Training Centre entitled “Contemporary Internet Technologies and the Basics of Working with Video” in the framework of the program “Public Relations and human Rights Work.” 

On 12 September in St. Petersburg Pavel Chikov and Agora lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliev ran a seminar for 25 NGO activists on the latest developments in the taxation of donations in Russia, organized by the Human Rights Resource Centre. 

On 7 September Agora lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliev ran a webinar for the Alliance of Independent Regional Publishers, in which 51 publishing companies from all regions of Russia are members, on the security of journalists in covering elections and public events. 

Pavel Chikov published in an article, Barrel of Power, about how the Putin epoch may come to an end through extraordinary events. According to editors, the article became news website’s most discussed publication over three days. 

Pavel Chikov and Dmitry Kolbasin published an article in Moskovskie novostiTightening the Virtual Screws, about the punitive measures of the Russian authorities against Internet users and the excessive number of initiatives of various government bodies relating to control of the Internet. 

Agora legal expert Damir Gainutdinov wrote an article for Slon.Ru entitled China, Uzbekistan, Russia – Together or Against the Internet about the efforts by various states to limit the freedom of the World Wide Web. 

Development of Regional Organizations 
In September, Agora partner organization Kazan Human Rights Centre celebrated its ten-year anniversary. An interview with Pavel Chikov, the first director of the Centre, and with its current leader, Igor Sholokhov, can be read here in Russian

On 8 September Igor Sholokhov, director of the Kazan Human Rights Centre, was one of the main speakers at a press conference organized by the office of the President of Tatarstan on the illegal practice of ‘obligatory payments’ at schools. On 19 September Igor Sholokhov spoke on this issue at a round table at the press centre of Komsomolskaya Pravda in Tatarstan. On 29 September the human rights defender read a paper about the practice of ‘obligatory payments’ in educational establishments at a round table at the press centre of the Internet portal, attended by a department head from the Prosecutor’s Office of Tatarstan and by two deputy ministers from the Tatarstan Ministry of Education and Science. 

On 14 September Aleksei Glukhov, head of the human rights organization Shield & Sword, read a lecture on “Basic Human Rights and Freedoms” to 39 staff members of the central administrative staff of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Chuvashia. 

Court cases 
Defending NGOs, journalists and civic activists (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Chelyabinsk, Moscow region) 
The Supreme Commercial Court of Russia ruled that the defence in the courts of NGOs that have become “the object of prosecution by the government” is oriented towards the “defence of constitutional rights of citizens” and directed towards the “public good”. Almost two months after the Supreme Commercial Court’s precedent-setting decision for Russian NGOs on the taxation of donations from abroad, the Court published its ruling on its official website. (Read more in Russian). 

In St. Petersburg the prosecution of Leonid Nikolaev, an activist with the performance art group Voina, on charges of hooliganism motivated by hatred in relation to one or other social group has been stopped on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence of a crime. (Read more in Russian). 

Moscow region court upheld the acquittal of Aleksei Gaskarov, anti-fascist and a journalist with the Collective Action Institute, who had been prosecuted in connection with an attack on Khimki town hall. (Read more in Russian). 

The decision by Moscow’s Khamovniki district court to dismiss the suit brought by Vasily Yakemenko, head of the Russian Agency for Youth Affairs, against journalists Oleg Kashin, Aleksandr Morozov and the newspaper Novye izvestiya, entered into force. (Read more in Russian). 

Chelyabinsk region military conscription commission withdrew its defamation suit against Chelyabinsk human rights defenders Aleksei Tabalov and Valeriya Prikhodkina. (Read more in Russian). 

A Yaroslavl Justice of the Peace sitting in the Kirov district court No. 2 closed the criminal case brought against Novaya gazeta journalist Elena Kostiuchenko on grounds of lack of evidence. She had been charged with violating the established procedures for conducting an assembly, rally, demonstration, march or picket. (Read more in Russian). 

Baikal region court upheld a ruling by Chita’s Chernov district court that the refusal by the head of penal colony No. 3 to allow former cell mate of businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky Aleksandr Kuchma access to materials of the investigation into an injury to his arm during his time in the penal colony was unlawful. (Read more in Russian). 

Violations by government and compensation 
The Investigative Committee of Russia has ruled that the National People’s Front, set up by Vladimir Putin, is not a non-governmental organization. (Read more in Russian). 

Charges have been brought in relation to an assault on a new conscript in an Altai military unit. According to investigators, the actions of a junior sergeant and a private resulted in the fall from the fourth floor of a building of a 21-year-old conscript from Tatarstan. The interests of the victim are represented by Kazan Human Rights Centre. (Read more in Russian)

In Kazan the case of the Judge Soldatov who killed a pedestrian while driving has been sent to court. The former judge has pleaded guilty and declared his readiness to pay damages for moral harm. He has petitioned the court to deal with his prosecution as a special case. (Read more in Russian). 

The Tatarstan Ministry of Education confirmed instances of ‘obligatory payments’ in the best school of the Republic. Materials about the violations at the Kazan high school have been sent to the Prosecutor’s Office. The Prosecutor’s Office is considering whether to bring charges against the school principal. (Read more in Russian). 

A Tatarstan resident won 2,500 roubles’ compensation for the unlawful actions of police officers. The Ministry of Finance of Russia is obliged to pay compensation to a young man detained on suspicion of stealing mobile phones. Kazan Human Rights Centre represented the claimant in court. (Read more in Russian). 

Alena Dudal, who was injured by gunshots fired by the former head of the Tsaritsyno police department, police major Denis Evsiukov, has lodged a claim with Moscow’s Tver district court demanding that the Ministry of Finance of Russia pay one million roubles in damages. (Read more in Russian). 

Moscow’s Tver district court and Moscow region’s Vidnoye town court have mislaid the case materials relating to a traffic accident in which the wife of Rashid Nurgaliev, Minister of the Interior of Russia, was involved. (Read more in Russian). 

Top Ten Media Publications 
1. Novaya gazeta. 29.09. Obviously a case with the brakes on
2. BBC Russian Service. 29.09. One of Evsiukov's victims demands compensation
3. Rossiiskaya gazeta. 29.09. Woman injured by major Evsiukov demands one million roubles from Ministry of Finance
4. Dozhd TV Station. 28.09. New law against gays: the problem is getting worse
5. Trud. 26.09. Case against the member of the Orthodox Brotherhood who assaulted a journalist is closed
6. Moskovskie novosti. 16.09. Ministry of Justice Refines Rules on Getting Permission to Conduct Surveillance of Judges
7. Novye izvestiya. 07.09. A Prophylactic Kickback? 
8. Dozhd TV Station. 06.09. Aleksei Navalny vs the Ministry of Health
9. Vedomosti. 06.09. Front above the Law
10. Kommersant. 03.09. The Public sues a Heavyweight.