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Agora Digest: October - November 2012

The New Generation 

Digest No. 10-11 (46) AGORA Association (October - November 2012)

International level /  European Court of Human Rights  /  Federal Level
Publications  /  Development of regional organisations  /  Cases. Courts. Victories
Top 10 press materials 

International level
On 4-6 November, Chairman of the Agora Association and Candidate of Legal Sciences Pavel Chikov attended a conference in Stockholm entitled ‘Strengthening Human Rights Defenders in the North Caucasus’, where he gave a report on the passing of the law on ‘foreign agent’ NGOs and how to defend against groundless claims from the authorities. 

On 26-27 November, Pavel Chikov, on behalf of the UN Development Programme, carried out an appraisal of the work of several Armenian non-governmental organisations that work with vulnerable sections of the population, including people with HIV, drug users and the LGBT community. 

On 16-17 November, Dmitry Kolbasin, chief editor of the Open Information News Agency ( and head of Agora’s information department, completed a training programme in Moscow from the FOJO Media Institute, part of the Linnaeus University (Kalmar, Sweden) for media trainers at the invitation of the Alliance of Independent Regional Publishers (AIRP). 

European Court of Human Rights 
The European Court of Human Rights awarded 22,000 euros to a citizen of Tatarstan for inadequate medical care in Russian Federal Penitentiary Service institutions. The prisoner’s interests were represented by Irina Khrunova, a lawyer and legal analyst for the Agora Association. Read more in Russian

On an expedited basis, in just one month, the European Court of Human Rights communicated the complaint of HIV-positive Georgian national Aleksandr Gablishvil from Syktyvkar, who the Federal Drug Control Service and the courts are trying to deport from Russia for his use of the drug Desomorphine. Read more in Russian

The European Court of Human Rights communicated the complaint of a 24-year-old woman concerning torture at the hands of the Tatarstan Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Russian government must now respond to questions on the case. The aggrieved party’s interests are being represented by the Kazan Human Rights Centre. Read more in Russian

The European Court of Human Rights has questioned Russia regarding the case of an employee assaulted by the head of the Tatarstan District Department of the Interior. The Court in Strasbourg communicated the worker’s complaint. He is being supported by Kazan-based human rights defenders. Read more in Russian

Federal level
In a decree, Vladimir Putin appointed head of the Agora Association, Pavel Chikov, a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights. The first meeting of the new-look Council took place on 21 November 2012. 

On 6 November, the anniversary of the attack on journalist Oleg Kashin, the Agora Association held a press conference at Interfax in Moscow entitled ‘The attack on the journalist Oleg Kashin. Two years on’. It summarised the two years of investigation and the results of the annual legal inquiry. Read more in Russian

On 10 October, Irina Khrunova, a lawyer and legal analyst at the Agora Association, managed to secure the release of Ekaterina Samutsevich, member of punk group Pussy Riot, in the chamber of Moscow City Court. 

On 5 October, lawyer and Agora legal analyst Ramil Akhmetgaliev held a training session in Novosibirsk for 12 representatives from NGOs and media organisations in the city about the changes to the legislation on non-governmental organisations. 

On 2 October, legal analyst with the Agora Association and Candidate of Legal Sciences Damir Gainutdinov spoke at a seminar in Moscow dedicated to the work of Russian NGOs under the new legislation. The meeting was organised by the Civil Rights Defenders group and was held in the office of the Memorial society.

On 18-19 November, Damir Gainutdinov and Dmitry Kolbasin held a training session for journalists on the initiative of the Alliance of Independent Regional Publishers (AIRP) entitled ‘Legal safety in the coverage by the media of highly contentious topics. How journalists can avoid accusations of insult, defamation and extremism’. 

Pavel Chikov, in his capacity as a regular columnist for Forbes.Ru, wrote the following articles for the journal: 

How Samutsevich’s new lawyer got her out of prison.
Why did Russian investigators target Leonid Razvozzhaev
Why was the first defendant in the ‘Bolotnaya Case’ given such a long sentence

Damir Gainutdinov wrote an analytical text for Gazeta.Ru entitled ‘A rule against technology (‘Internet community renounces law on site blacklists’) on the practical implications of the application of the law ‘On defending children from information harmful to their health and development’.

Aleksei Glukhov, head of Agora’s partner organisation Shield and Sword, published an article entitled ‘A refuge of freedom of assembly’ for Kasparov.Ru , revealing how those who have organised and taken part in protests in 2012 have led to victory in ten court cases in Chuvashia. 

In November, the Agora Association carried out an anti-corruption assessment into the draft order from the Russian Ministry of Justice on ‘foreign agent’ NGOs.

Development of regional organisations
On 19 November, officials, law enforcement officers and human rights defenders discussed the topic of extortion in Kazan’s schools. Director of the Kazan Human Rights Centre Igor Sholokhov reported on exaction in educational establishments. Read more in Russian

On 28 November, Igor Sholokhov attended an academic seminar for deputy prosecutors from the various districts of Tatarstan, discussing issues related to the organisation and coordination of interaction with the public, clarifying legislation and legal education. The human rights activist gave a report on the interaction between NGOs and prosecutors in restoring violated human rights, based on examples from his own organisation.

In November, Aleksei Glukhov, head of the organisation Shield and Sword, played an active role in preparing the regional law on public protests in Chuvashia. Although the document cannot exactly be considered liberal, several public requests were successfully included in the new draft of the law. Read more in Russian

On 24 October, a round table took place in Chuvashia entitled ‘The regional law on public protests - censorship or necessity?’ It was organised by the human rights organisation Shield and Sword and the regional Civil Initiative Committee. Read more in Russian

On 11 October, Aleksei Glukhov spoke to Chuvashian civil activists at a meeting dedicated to ensuring their safety whilst carrying out their work. Read more in Russian.

On 10 October, Aleksei Glukhov once again gave a lecture to employees at the head office of the Chuvashia Ministry of the Interior. The talk concerned a police officer’s duty during the electoral process. Read more in Russan

On 9, 16, and 30 October respectively, Igor Sholokhov attended meetings with three different groups: the Tatarstan Presidential Anti-Corruption Council; the Collegium of the Tatarstan Ministry of Justice, on the topic ‘On the awarding by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tatarstan of powers to monitor the implementation of the Integrated Republic-Wide Anti-Corruption Programme 2012-2014’; and the Public Council of the Tatarstan branch of the Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation. 

In October, Aleksei Glukhov took part in a round table organised by the Central Election Commission of Chuvashia, where he represented the team of independent observers. He also attended a meeting of the Public Advisory Board from the Chuvashia Division of the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service. 

Cases. Courts. Victories 
Protection of NGOs, journalists, bloggers and social activists (Nizhny Novgorod region, Perm Krai, Tatarstan, Karelia, Chuvashia) 

On 19 October, the Leninsky district court in Perm ruled that the warning given to the Perm Human Rights Centre by the Perm office of the Ministry of Justice stating that NGOs were obliged to pay tax on donations received from foreign donors was unlawful. Read more in Russian

On 18 October, the Nizhny Novgorod district court sent the so-called ‘Antifa-RASH’ case back to the prosecutor to remove the violations, doubts and obstacles that impeded the examination of the merits of the case. The court had previously twice adjourned the disclosure of the sentence in the case. Read more in Russian

On 8 November, the Leninsky district court in Cheboksary comprehensively ruled against the Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for Chuvashia, against an employee in that department and against the acting head of Penal Colony No. 6 in the settlement of a claim regarding the damage to the honour, dignity and business standing they inflicted on the local newspaper and organisation Shield and Sword. Read more in Russian.

Estonia granted political asylum to Maxim Efimov, the blogger, manager of the Youth Human Rights Movement and author of the text ‘Karelia is tired of priests’, who is wanted in Russia “for inciting hostility and hatred, as well as denigration of dignity on religious grounds”. Read more in Russian.

In Tatarstan, the public revelations about extortion at schools from a mother of two pupils were not considered slanderous. Police officers decided not to begin criminal proceedings against the administrator of the ‘Extortion and Free Textbooks at Schools’ group on a social network. Read more in Russian

The Supreme Court of Tatarstan recognised the right of journalists to make value judgements. A case against the press from a woman twice convicted of fraud was dismissed. The press were advised by Kazan-based human rights defenders. Read more in Russian.

On 9 October, the magistrate of judicial sub-district No. 2 in Novocheboksarsk dropped the administrative case against civil activist Dmitry Pankov, who was accused of violating the set procedure for organising and running a public event. The case was dismissed due to the lack of an element of offence. The same reasoning had previously been used to acquit the other organisers of the event. The activists’ interests were represented by head of the human rights organisation Shield and Sword, Aleksei Glukhov. Read more in Russian.

On 31 October, having examined a complaint from human rights activists, the Supreme Court of Chuvashia ruled that the Cheboksary city government’s refusal to agree to a public event (the Strategy-31 protest in July this year) was a violation of the citizens’ constitutional rights, and was therefore unlawful. Read more in Russian

State abuse of power (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tatarstan, Komi) 
Following an intervention from the Agora Association, the Prosecutor General asked the Investigative Committee to initiate proceedings into the state order by the Ministry of Health for the prevention of HIV infection. The Prosecutor General sent materials for examination to the Investigative Committee to bring a case in connection with the signing of a state contract at an over-inflated price of 21.5 million roubles [approximately £440,000] between the Russian Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development and a company for the development of a communication strategy, a creative concept and advertising and information materials for the prevention of HIV infection. Read more in Russian

In St. Petersburg, six former police officers received up to ten years’ imprisonment for torturing a prisoner to death. The Moskovsky district court in St. Petersburg found the six former Ministry of Internal Affairs employees guilty in the high-profile case into the death of Denis Vyrzhikovsky following torture at the hands of the police. The head of the department for fighting property crimes at the Moscow Regional Office of Internal Affairs was one of those sentenced. Read more in Russian.

In Tatarstan, the 13 aggrieved persons in the criminal case into torture at the Dalny police station have finished their familiarisation with the case. Four of the injured parties are being represented by Igor Sholokhov. Read more in Russian

Following the publication of a video by Kazan-based human rights defenders, criminal proceedings have been initiated into the death of a detainee at a police station in the city. In its first three days online, the video clip of the final minutes of the 45-year-old man’s life was viewed 110,000 times on YouTube. Read more in Russian

In Kazan, a State Road Safety Inspectorate employee was sentenced for assaulting a 54-year-old motorist. The Kazan Human Rights Centre will now strive for fair financial compensation for the victim. Read more in Russian

Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service (UFSIN) (Tatarstan) 
In November, a court ruled that the warning given to a human rights activist who brought to light violations in prisons in Tatarstan was unlawful. The Special Prosecutor General must also pay the social activist’s legal costs, to a total of 200 roubles (£4). Read more in Russian

UFSIN Tatarstan lost a court battle against human rights activists. The court refused to uphold the complaint from prison workers who accused human rights defenders of disobedience. Read more in Russian

In October, the court dismissed a case against a human rights activist detained by UFSIN Tatarstan riflemen. Human rights defenders helped secure the acquittal of the Public Monitoring Committee member, who was caught on film near Penal Colony No. 2 in Kazan. Read more in Russian

In October, the human rights defenders accused by UFSIN Tatarstan of delivering prohibited objects to prisoners were acquitted in court. The administrative cases against the two members of the Public Monitoring Committee, represented by the head of Kazan Human Rights Centre Igor Sholokhov, were dropped. Read more in Russian

Compensation (Tatarstan) 
Kazan Psychiatric Hospital paid 15,000 roubles [£300] to a former patient for moral distress. Meanwhile, the complaint from the former female patient regarding the inhumane confinement conditions at the medical establishment is being scrutinised by the European Court of Human Rights. Read more in Russian

The father of a schoolboy killed by falling football goalposts was awarded 800,000 roubles [£16,000]. The court ruled that two Kazan schools should pay the man financial compensation for the death of his 11-year-old son. The interests of the aggrieved party were represented by the Kazan Human Rights Centre. Read more in Russian

A court has forced officials to allocate a disabled woman 943,000 roubles [£19,100] to purchase an apartment. Human rights defenders also managed to ensure that officials are obliged to include the lady in the list of people entitled to housing. Read more in Russian

Social issues (Tatarstan) 
Kazan-based human rights activists managed to ensure an orphan was included in the list of special cases for receiving housing. During her studies the girl was not informed about her right to be provided with accommodation, and was then told it was too late to fill in the paperwork. Read more in Russian

Proceedings have been launched against the director of an elite high school for extortion and manipulation of property. Information about the violations at the school was obtained via a human rights activists’ hotline on extortion in schools. Read more in Russian

Text books and exercise books were handed out free of charge to Kazan schoolchildren following a complaint by their parents to the Prosecutor's Office. With the assistance of human rights defenders, the activists ensured that their children were provided with all the necessary learning aids at school. Read more in Russian.

Top 10 press materials
1. Channel 5. 22.11. Severe diagnosis does not help five-year-old boy from Kazan win legal proceedings against officials
2. Kommersant-Vlast magazine. 19.11. ‘The Cossacks are not a nationality, they are the knights of Orthodoxy. 
3. Kommersant. 14.11. Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development fails test on HIV
4. Dozhd Television Channel. 13.11. How can the Ministry of Health cope with HIV
5. Bolshoy Gorod magazine. 11.10. Two plus one
6. Kommersant. 11.10. Pussy Riot’s motive gets conditional
7. Bolshoy Gorod magazine. 6.11. ‘Ask anything you like, except about Kashin’. Interview with Oleg Kashin and lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliev. 
8. Channel One. 29.10. Investigative Committee to examine Yudino police station in Kazan
9. Dozhd Television Channel. 03.10. Samutsevich’s new lawyers defended YUKOS and people involved in the Bolotnaya case
10. Noviye Izvestiya. 2.10. “People tortured by police in Kazan fight for compensation

© AGORA Inter-Regional Human Rights Association, December 2012,
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