NGO staff in Volgograd sentenced to probation
A Voroshilovsky district court in Volgograd has sentenced employees of the voluntary organisation Unesco Club “Dignity of the Child”. Judge Lyudmila Lepilkina sentenced the head of the organisation Irina Malovichko, Vice-President Tatiana Zagumennova and Chief Accountant Ulyana Ilyashina to two and a half years’ probation. According to the “Public Verdict Fund” all evidence was considered permissible by the prosecution. During court proceedings, the prosecutor demanded that all three defendants be sentenced to two and a half years in a penal colony. The three pleaded not guilty.
In the opinion of Natalya Taubina, head of the “Public Verdict Fund“, the criminal case against Unesco Club “Dignity of the Child” can only be construed as an attempt to clamp down on children’s rights organisations. Taubina stated that during the criminal investigation there were numerous violations of the law. She was surprised that the defendants did not receive an adequate evaluation in court and that the judge found the employees guilty on all counts.
Irina Malovichko, head of the voluntary organisation, and two employees were accused of misappropriation of funds for project grants from the budget and causing property damage to Volgograd’s administration and regional administration establishments. However, neither of the aforementioned ‘victims’ made any claims against the voluntary organisation and continued to work actively with it on children’s rights projects.
The damages were set at 24,000 roubles when the defendants were accused, but this was reduced to 18,000 roubles by the prosecution during the trial. The trial identified 22 ‘incorrect’ receipts; however, the accounts department is known to process about seven thousand documents and invoices every year.
The Unesco Club “Dignity of the Child” campaigns for the rights of children and provides them with financial help. From the moment of its establishment in 2001, the organisation has actively campaigned for the rights of children and teenagers that lead difficult lives. The organisation is involved in educational activities amongst foster families, provides psychological support to orphans and guardians, is engaged in prevention of child abandonment and works with child criminals. The club’s projects have always been implemented openly and publicly. From 2001-2009 the organisation implemented over thirty thousand projects and applied to Volgograd’s Social Services for a grant of 5.5 million roubles from domestic and foreign sources.
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