Appeal to ECHR on ‘undesirable organisations’
The Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the “on undesirable organisations” law.
The Club of NGO Lawyers reported that the foundation had turned to the ECHR. “This is the first complaint to the European Court from a non-commercial organisation regarding the “on undesirable organisations” law, the head of the legal service Club of NGO Lawyers, Max Olenichev, explained, representing the foundation’s interests in court.
In 2017, the foundation was found guilty of breaking the “on undesirable organisations” law. The organisation was fined 50, 000 roubles for having hyperlinks to the Open Society Foundation, which is included on the list of “undesirable organisations”.
“The state’s claim rests on the fact that in 2011, the foundation had on their website amongst other hyperlinks, a link to the Open Society Foundation, which provided support to many civil society organisations. We do not consider that such actions have broken the law. The state does not agree with our suggested, scientifically-proven approach to treating drug dependency through methadone replacement therapy, and it is because of that that they are putting pressure on us”, the foundation’s President Anya Sarang said.
The foundation is currently trying to challenge the fine in the Moscow Municipal Court, but the organisation believes that they will not manage to defend their rights on a national level.
In June 2016, the foundation was forcibly entered onto the “foreign agents” register. The Ministry of Justice considered the organisation’s participation in international events, aimed at promoting drug policy, the publication of an open letter to the chair of the government and an interview of the foundation’s president on the TV channel “Dozhd” as “political activity”. The organisation was also threatened with another fine for refusing to voluntarily call themselves a “foreign agent”, but the court dismissed the charge.
The “on undesirable organisations” law, adopted in May 2015, provoked criticism from both the Russian and international human rights community.
Those foreign and international organisations are declared “undesirable”, whose activities threaten the “defence capabilities or security of the state” or “the foundation of constitutional order”. Twelve organisations whose activities can be called “undesirable” have been entered into the “Patriotic Stop-List” of the Federation Council of Russia.