Human rights project «Phoenix» in Russia
Phoenix (Greek φοῖνιξ, lat. phoenix) is a mythological long-lived bird that revives after death.
According to the widespread version of the myth, foreseeing his death, the Phoenix carried out the re-incineration of himself, after which he reappeared from the fire, or emerged from the ashes, dust.
In a metaphorical interpretation, the phoenix is a symbol of eternal renewal, immortality.
The first written mention of the Phoenix myth is found in Herodotus (5th century BC). He reports that this is a bird from Arabia, lives for 500 years with parent, and when he dies, he flies to the temple of the sun god in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis and buries the body of his parent there.
In the Christian world, the phoenix means the triumph of eternal life, resurrection, faith, constancy; it is a symbol of Christ. In early Christianity, the phoenix is constantly found on burial slabs: here its meaning is the victory over death, the resurrection from the dead.
In the Jewish Kabbalah there are some interpretations of the events that took place in the Garden of Eden, where it is said that Eve fed the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to the husband Adam and all animals and birds and beasts. Only the Phoenix bird did not succumb to temptation, which subsequently retained its relative immortality because of this.
This bird lives forever, every thousand years it burns in a flame emerging from its nest, and is reborn from the ashes.
There is another legend about an immortal bird. During the 12-month stay of righteous Noah in the Ark during the flood, he fed the animals that were there. Of all the inhabitants of the ark, only the phoenix lay, modestly snoozing in a corner, and to Noah’s question: «Why don’t you demand food for yourself?» — answered: «- I saw how much trouble you have with others, and did not dare to bother you.» — Moved by these words, Noah said: “- You regretted my work, condolences to my grief. May the Almighty send you eternal life! »
In heraldry, the phoenix is depicted rising from a flame.
We can draw a figurative analogy between the fate of Phoenix and the events around the organization «For Human Rights».
The For Human Rights Movement was liquidated by the court in November 2019.
However, on November 30, 2019, the liquidated organization was reborn like Phoenix, represented by the National Public Organization «For Human Rights».
As a result of the tightening of legislation from March 1, 2021, there was a threat of bringing to administrative and criminal liability more than 1000 participants of «For Human Rights» throughout the country.
Therefore, by the Decision of the 2nd Congress of the National Public Organization «For Human Rights» dated March 7, 2021, a decision was made to dissolve the organization.
In this regard, the head of the organization Lev Ponomarev made a video message
News of the dissolution of the organization on the website «For Human Rights»
I, Stepan Petrov, Chief of NGO «Yakutia — Our Opinion», previously appointed head of the regional branch of «For Human Rights» took part in the Congress and supported the decision to dissolve the organization.
In his statement, Ponomarev expressed the hope that this is a temporary measure.
He also drew an analogy with the Moscow Helsinki Group, which was also forced to liquidate. Some members of the organization were imprisoned, some were forced to leave abroad. In 1989, the Moscow Helsinki Group resumed its work.
Lev Ponomarev said the following:
«Let’s hope that sooner or later we will be reborn as the Moscow Helsinki Group,»
“The dissolution of the NGO “For Human Rights” is just a technical issue. The human rights work of the NGO Hot Line and the In Defense of Prisoners’ Rights Foundation, headed by me, continues. »
He confirmed that human rights work will continue, but in a new format.
The main interaction will take place not at the level of legal entities, but at the level of individuals. It is not yet prohibited to make friends and communicate with people — individuals in Russia.
In a telephone conversation, Lev Ponomarev confirmed to me that he would assist in promoting the issues and problems of Yakutia at the federal level.
On my own behalf, I would like to add that the dissolution is really a technical issue, a necessary measure in the current conditions. Contacts are saved, work and interaction continues.
The main thing is people. And time will put everything in its place.
I joined For Human Rights relatively recently in 2019.
I was offered to join the organization by Mark Aleksandrovich Kuperman, Chairman of the Sakhalin Regional Branch of the All-Russian Movement For Human Rights.
I express my gratitude for this proposal to Mark Aleksandrovich, who highly appreciated my work.
I, Stepan Petrov, am proud to have become a member of this one of the oldest human rights organizations in Russia.
And the fact that I joined the organization at a difficult time.
If the situation was better and the authorities were loyal to it, then a significant part of the members would join the organization proceeding from opportunistic considerations.
Participation in it at such a difficult time did not promise any advantages, and potentially meant only an increased level of risks.
Therefore, I believe that the current composition of «For Human Rights» consists of ideological supporters of human rights.
I can also draw an analogy between the fate of Phoenix and our organization «Yakutia — Our Opinion» for the following reasons.
In 2019, a scheduled inspection of the regional Department of the Ministry of Justice took place.
Based on the results of the check on formal grounds, without taking into account objective circumstances, our organization was sentenced in court to a number of fines. An attempt was also made to unreasonably recognize the organization as a foreign agent.
It should be noted that one of the reasons for this was the overly complex reporting for non-profit organizations. Public organizations in Russia are legal entities and are required to submit reports comparable in volume and complexity to those of commercial organizations (joint stock companies, limited liability companies, and others). There are also strict requirements for the work of the organization’s governing bodies, such as the presidium, the board, the audit commission, as well as for holding general meetings and conferences. Public organizations submit the entire range of reports to the tax inspectorate, off-budget funds and other government agencies.
Social activists find themselves under bureaucratic pressure and are forced to spend significant material and time resources on reporting. Sometimes reporting takes longer than the actual social activities.
As a result, an abnormal situation develops when a public organization with a number of several people, which does not have any significant fixed assets and resources, is forced to submit numerous reports as a large industrial enterprise with a number of several hundred people, which produces material products and turns significant money.
Obviously, there is a need to simplify the frequency and volume of reporting for public figures, to eliminate excessive requirements for the creation and procedure for the work of governing bodies.
An excessively large volume of reporting and unreasonably high requirements for public organizations slow down the development of civil society in Russia and create conditions for politically motivated persecution under the pretext of non-compliance with formal requirements.
In the future, this could become the reason for bringing our organization to various types of responsibility, which could ultimately lead to its liquidation.
In this regard, I made a decision to transform the organization into a different organizational and legal form, which would imply more optimal conditions for the organization’s activities. The form was chosen: Autonomous non-commercial organization.
In August 2020, I initiated a reorganization.
This process included the following:
-liquidation of the Public organization for monitoring the socio-economic situation and informing the population in the Republic Sakha (Yakutia) «Yakutia — Our Opinion», which was established on August 23, 2010;
-creation of a new Autonomous non-commercial organization for protection of human rights and public information «Yakutia — Our Opinion», which was successfully registered on March 10, 2021.
It should be noted that being in the stage of transformation imposes some significant restrictions on the activities of the organization.
At this time, the organization was in a vulnerable position.
And it was at this time that the attack on the organization by the law enforcement agencies began.
On November 25, 2020, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Yakutia, in agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office of Yakutia, initiated an illegal unscheduled inspection at the regional Department of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.
Read more about illegal inspection and its results here https://bit.ly/3bJX7zt
This was somewhat unexpected, given the normal constructive relations with representatives of the Ministry in terms of anti-corruption activities. And it resembled a surprise attack by the Nazi invaders on the USSR in June 1941.
An unequal battle between me — a public figure who does not have any serious material, human and administrative resources with the main law enforcement agencies of Yakutia, which have a large staff, state powers, material equipment and weapons to suppress any persons, whom they consider unilaterally opponents, began.
It was reminiscent of the situation during the Great Patriotic War, when one lone hero went out against the superior forces of the enemy. Against a large group of fascists, their tanks and aircraft. And he died that had its own special meaning.
I am not a lone hero, not a soldier of the Soviet army, but morally I was already ready for this, since there was nowhere to retreat.
Whole units of the Yakutian Ministry of Internal Affairs and numerous officers took up arms against me.
I was repeatedly summoned to various departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Yakutia.
Communication took place in a form that humiliates human dignity. Often, the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Yakutia simply mocked me and at the same time flaunts their superiority.
In some cases, there was a feeling that I would no longer leave the buildings of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Yakutia, but would be arrested and get into their casemates, as it already happened in 1937 with those who were objectionable in the Soviet NKVD.
The general meaning of their admonitions and threats was as follows: there was only one step left before the initiation of a criminal case against you, Stepan Petrov.
There was a situation when “you were surrounded on all sides and there was nothing to lose” and you had to defend yourself by all available means.
As you know, in Russia law enforcement agencies have a dominant position in all spheres of life. Do not have to hope to achieve justice in the courts.
According to the information I have, the check was initiated directly by the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Yakutia. The events were under the control of the top officials of the ministry.
I connected this illegal inspection with my public anti-corruption activities.
I suggested that some heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Yakutia were carrying out an assignment (order) of some senior officials of Yakutia to organize pressure on me.
The terms of the inspection were extended 2 times.
There was a real threat of liquidation of my organization.
I was already mentally prepared for this and prepared for a long struggle.
And I planned further actions in the extreme conditions of repression of me and my organization by the law enforcement agencies.
I started preparing relevant appeals to the public, courts, federal authorities and international organizations.
Even knowing about the hopelessness of confrontation with state and law enforcement agencies in Russia, I made the decision to “Go to the end” and go through all the stages of protecting my rights.
It was a matter of principle, since I did not violate the law in my work.
On the contrary: I only contributed to strengthening the rule of law and order, protecting the constitutional rights of citizens through anti-corruption activities, conducting anti-corruption examinations, legal assistance to citizens, developing proposals for improving legislation and law enforcement practice in Russia.
I believe that such injustice that is taking place in Yakutia, a region of Russia, is simply impossible in any normal civilized country, when public figures advocating for civil rights, law and order are persecuted.
The attack by the Yakutian law enforcement agencies on my NGO in a transitional «comatose» state became a serious test of strength.
I think that this test was passed with dignity.
This proves that «And one is a warrior in the field» with the moral support of numerous supporters, colleagues and partners.
This can be considered a small tactical victory in the fight against the Yakut corruption leviathan, which, like an octopus, enveloped not only the entire republic, but also local divisions of the federal authorities.
It remains to be hoped that in the future the local federals will not succumb to the persuasion of corrupt Yakut officials to organize violent suppression and will not betray the interests of the public service for a bribe out of selfish motives.
I believe that the priority direction of the activity of the Yakut divisions of the Federal authorities should be the implementation of the state policy of Russia, including in the field of combating corruption, and not serving Yakut corrupt officials as lackeys for bribing.
Therefore, I hope for the assistance of representatives of the Federal authorities in Yakutia in the implementation of the State Anti-Corruption Policy of Russia and the National Anti-Corruption Plan.
The public organization «Yakutia — Our Opinion» existed for 11 years from August 23, 2010 and was liquidated.
On its basis, a new Autonomous non-commercial organization «Yakutia — Our Opinion» was created, which was successfully registered on March 10, 2021.
The constituent documents are presented here https://bit.ly/2PT9QY2
For 11 years of work, a lot has been achieved, considerable experience has been accumulated.
A lot of work has been done at the regional, federal and international levels.
The transformation of the organization took place in extreme conditions of unprecedented pressure from the law enforcement agencies of Yakutia.
But this only increases the value of the achieved result.
The events of recent months around our organization give grounds to draw an analogy with the fate of Phoenix.
The public organization «Yakutia — Our Opinion» ceased to exist.
But it gave birth to a new Autonomous non-commercial organization «Yakutia — Our Opinion».
On March 10, 2021, our organization was reborn like Phoenix, despite all the obstacles.
The countdown of a new stage in the history of the organization begins.
I am sure that new achievements await us ahead.
March 7, 2021 — the date of the dissolution of the National Public Organization «For Human Rights». Taking into account the cyclical course of history, I am sure that after a certain time «For Human Rights», like Phoenix, will be reborn in a more viable and stable form.
And every member of the organization will make an effort for this.
I consider myself a conductor of the ideas of «For Human Rights».
Therefore, we can assume that 3 days after the liquidation, a piece of «For Human Rights» was revived in the person of our new organization «Yakutia — Our Opinion».
I see this as a special symbolism, embodying the connection between generations of human rights defenders and the spiritual unity of our large country.
Dear colleagues !
Our association in this difficult time is a triumph of the will and spirit of specific people representing the human rights community of Russia!
We will write the history of the organization ourselves.
We, more than 1000 participants «For Human Rights» represent all of Russia.
We have nothing to share. We have one life — one country — one destiny.
We protect the interests of not individual layers of the population, not narrow corporate interests, but the interests of all citizens and the entire country.
We stand for the observance of the fundamental universally recognized human and civil rights and freedoms, which are relevant for all citizens of Russia.
Therefore, the Human Rights Movement of Russia is eternal, immortal and invincible.
The main thing is human rights, which belong to person by birth, and not the rights of a citizen of a particular country, limited by national legislation. They are all versatile and comprehensive. They are higher and broader than the rights of a citizen of Russia and do not offer anything bad.
The realization of human rights that belong to all by birth and are developed on the basis of humanistic ideals of good and peace, by definition, cannot carry a negative.
And we, the representatives of the Multinational People of Russia, which according to the Constitution is the only source of power, has a special Mission to implement the constitutional provision on democracy.
I also appeal to human rights defenders and civil activists with a proposal to unite in the event of liquidation of our organizations into informal associations of citizens under the code name «Phoenix».
This method of work will be used in my work, if necessary.
Operation will continue in the Phoenix alternative emergency mode.
This will be spun off into a separate Phoenix Human Rights Project.
And it will envisage, among other things, the fixation and documentation of violations in order to subsequently bring the perpetrators of violations to all types of responsibility after the situation normalizes.
The Phoenix operating mode will mean that «things are not so good, but they will be better soon.»
It will mean the need to mobilize forces and resources to normalize the situation.
Everything passes. After darkness comes light, the bad is replaced by the good.
On my own behalf, I may note that We are going through difficult times with dignity.
Largely due to the consolidating and positive role of our leadership.
Lev Ponomarev does not lose his presence of mind in difficult moments of life, even when he announces the liquidation of his organization.
He does it with a smile with the words «this is c’est la vie».
With dignity, as befits a true representative of the Russian intelligentsia.
Dear Lev Alexandrovich!
I, Stepan Petrov, am glad and proud to be involved in the organization «For Human Rights» and know you personally.
In the photo: Lev Ponomarev and Stepan Petrov, Moscow, November 30, 2019
We, members of the organization «For Human Rights» have the truth, the desire to make life better and people who trust us.
And by this we are strong.
Our organization «For Human Rights», like the Phoenix bird, will be reborn from the ashes.
This will definitely happen, since Phoenix lives in each of us.
In each of the more than 1000 members of the organization throughout the country.
Our story continues.
Chief of Autonomous non-commercial organization
«Yakutia — Our Opinion»
Tel. +7 (914) 224-24-11