Digest No. 7 (37), July-August 2011
Agora Human Rights Association
In This Issue:
Development of Regional Organizations
Cases and Court Hearings
Top 10 Media Reports
A Legal Precedent. On 28 July 2011 the Supreme Commercial Court of Russia ruled that Russian non-profits should not pay profit tax on donations received from foreign donors. The judgment by the Presidium of the Supreme Commercial Court was made in a case brought by Agora Human Rights Association against the Tax Inspectorate. The decision is final and cannot be appealed. The ruling by the Supreme Commercial Court removes contradictions in the interpretation of the Tax Code of Russia and has finalized this issue for all Russian non-profits since its ruling is obligatory for all commercial courts in all Russian regions. [Read more in Russian]
On 28 August Dmitry Kolbasin, head of the information department of the Agora Human Rights Association and editor of the Open Information Agency, made a presentation at the School of Russian Nonprofits and Civic Activists on ‘Using Video and Film in Campaigning’ organized by People in Need (Czech Republic) about the experience of Agora Human Rights Association in using video.
Agora Human Rights Association reported on the persecution of civic activists, journalists and non-government organizations in the first six months of 2011. In this period Agora registered 377 public campaigns in which 66,308 activists took part, more than 1,000 people were arrested, and 505 instances of persecution in 51 regions were reported. [Read more in Russian].
Pavel Chikov contributed an article to Forbes magazine, ‘How the Reassessment of Police Officers Should Have Been Conducted: Three Simple Rules.’
Pavel Chikov and Dmitry Kolbasin contributed two articles to Novaya gazeta: ‘Ex-Minister Takes Complaint to Strasbourg’ and ‘Katyn, Shooting a Dog, Torture and an Exploded Mill,’ on the June and July judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in cases against Russia.
Pavel Chikov published an article in Moskovskie novosti entitled ‘Money for Those Killed by the Police’ on claims taken to court against the Ministry of Finance for compensation in cases where the police have been found responsible for deaths.
Development of Regional Organizations
In July and August Aleksei Glukhov, head of Shield and Sword (Chuvashia), a partner organization of Agora, gave two lectures to staff of the head office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Chuvashia on ‘Norms of Ethical Conduct for Police Officers’ and ‘Basic Principles of Police Behaviour When Making an Arrest.’
Members of the Chuvashia Public Oversight Commission, Aleksei Glukhov and Viktoriya Maksimova, in July and August visited the Temporary Detention Centre for Minor Defenders and Penal Colonies Nos. 3 and 6. Aleksei Glukhov also visited Colony No. 1 following the discovery there of a prisoner hanged in a cell. He also took part, jointly with the special prosecutor, in a general inspection of colony No. 6.
Aleksei Glukhov took part in a July meeting of the public advisory council of the Chuvashia Anti-Monopoly Committee, and in a public discussion in August of the regional bill ‘On Measures of Government Support for Socially-Oriented Non-Profit Organizations’.
Cases and Court Hearings
Protection of NGOs, Journalists and Civic Activists (Gorno-Altaisk, St. Petersburg, Saratov Region)
On 21 July Gorno-Altaisk city court acquitted journalist Sergei Mikhailov on charges of inciting hatred and insulting a public official. At the same time the court found Mikhailov, who is also the publisher of the Listok newspaper, guilty of slandering Altai region governor Aleksandr Berdnikov, but ordered his immediate release on the basis of the statute of limitations. [Read more in Russian].
On 22 July St. Petersburg’s Dzerzhinsky district court refused a request by prosecutors to impose pre-trial detention on Leonid Nikolaev, an activist with the performance art group Voina. [Read more in Russian].
On 24 and 26 August Balakovsky city court in Saratov region dismissed two administrative cases against Natalya Sokol, the wife of Oleg Vorotnikov, leader of the Voina performance art group, relating to the holding of pickets and the failure to obey the lawful instructions of a police officer. [Read more in Russian].
Violations of the Law by Government and Compensation (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Tatarstan)
On 4 August St. Petersburg city court awarded Galina Kosobokova, the mother of a man killed in a police cell of the North-West District Transport Police Department, 500,000 roubles in damages. [Read more in Russian].
On the basis of submissions made by Agora Human Rights Association that Vladimir Markin, an official of the Investigative Committee of Russia, had violated Russian law, on 15 August the Prosecutor General submitted a request to the chairman of the Investigative Committee, Aleksandr Bastrykin, that Markin be subject to disciplinary measures. [Read more in Russian].
A court ruled that Kazan Police Department must eliminate violations from its special detention centre. At the prompting of Kazan Human Rights Centre, prosecutors conducted an inspection and subsequently addressed an appeal to a court that the conditions of detention should be brought into line with legal requirements. [Read more in Russian].
In Tatarstan a former judge has been charged in relation to the death of a 23-year-old pedestrian. Investigators also arrested the property of the former judge. Kazan Human Rights Centre is representing the family of the person killed. [Read more in Russian].
Kazan city government has paid 55,000 roubles to Ruslan Shakirov, a victim of police torture. As a result of five years’ work by human rights defenders on this case, police officers have been sentenced to prison terms and all three victims have received compensation payments. [Read more in Russian].
A court has awarded 80,000 roubles in compensation to a soldier run over by an armoured personnel carrier in Tskhinvali. A district court in Tatarstan reduced almost nine-fold the sum of compensation claimed from the military unit by the 20-year-old private who, as a result of the incident, is now disabled. The claimant was represented by the Kazan Human Rights Centre. [Read more in Russian].
A criminal investigation has been opened into the breaking of the backbone of a high school student in Kazan. According to the student’s mother, a teacher struck her child on the back with her fist because the child had not been waving a flag in welcome to officials from Kazan city hall and other important visitors. Kazan Human Rights Centre is representing the victims. [Read more in Russian].
Aleksandr Trapeznikov, prosecutor in Gurievsky district, Kaliningrad region, has ruled that the criminal case brought against 44-year-old Irina Teplinskaya – an HIV activist, defending the rights of drug addicts and advocating the legalization of substitution therapy – was unlawful. [Read more in Russian].
On 29 August Irina Khrunova, a lawyer and legal analyst with the Agora Human Rights Association, secured the immediate release from Kitai-Gorod police station of HIV activists detained when they tied themselves to the building of the Presidential Administration. The activists had been protesting against the failure by the Ministry of Health and Social Development to obtain life-saving drugs.
A 64-year-old woman who was hospitalized as a result of an incident when snow fell on her from the roof of Kazan City Hall has won a claim for compensation. The court ruled that the city department responsible for street cleaning should pay 27,500 roubles to the claimant. [Read more in Russian].
Top 10 Media Reports
1. Nasha Versiya. 22.08. ‘It will be prison for those who speak out against the government or the police on the Internet.’
2. Nezavisimaya gazeta. 16.08. ‘General Prosecutor’s Office gives the Investigative Committee a rap on the knuckles.’
3. Vedomosti. 16.08. ‘Front of the Blue Uniforms.’
4. The Moscow Post. 05.08. ‘Second “Front” is Opened.’
5. Trud. 29.07. ‘Non-profits will not pay taxes on donations.’
6. Kommersant. 29.07. ‘Money donated to human rights defenders.’
7. Telekanal ‘Dozhd’. 27.07. ‘Purpose of the leaks – censorship of the Internet.’
8. Pervyi kanal. Good morning. 26.07. ‘Medical diagnosis is reason for sacking.’
9. Kommersant-Dengi. 11.07. ‘Voina gives money to human rights defenders.’
10. BBC. 05.07. ‘Corruption “everywhere” in Russia.’