Court to review complaints about foreign agent law
The Russian Constitutional Court will, on March 6, review complaints about the Foreign Agents Law
The open session will review complaints on the Foreign Agents Law submitted to the Constitutional Court in August and September 2012.
The Court combined these complaints into a single case.
One of the complaints was submitted by the Kostroma Social Initiatives Centre, which was fined by a magistrates court for organising a round table with US diplomats, and for arranging a speech by Vladimir Lukin, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Russian Federation who, in his speech, mentioned four NGOs affected by the enforcement of the Foreign Agents Law. Other complaints were filed by “Side by Side” – a LGBT film festival, the GOLOS Association – an organisation protecting electoral rights, and Ulukitkan – an environmental organisation.
The complaint from the Kostroma Social Initiatives Centre says that the current law on NGOs breaches five articles of the Russian Constitution – Article 19 (equality before the law), Article 29 (freedom of speech), Article 30 (right to association), Article 32 (right to participate in managing state affairs) and Article 51 (right not to testify against oneself). The Centre representatives also anticipate that, irrespective of the decision the Constitutional Court takes, it will clarify the term ‘political activity’, which at present is being interpreted somewhat freely by the Russian Prosecution Service and law courts.
In his complaint, Vladimir Lukin also states that provisions within the Foreign Agents Law which define the terms ‘foreign agent’ and ‘political activity’, are both politically and legally vague.