Project

«Counteraction to the system of suppressing civil society in Russia aimed at restricting the activities of  international organizations  and criminalizing human rights activities  in violation of international norms»

 

I am Stepan Petrov, citizen of Russia, Human rights activist, The Сhief of NGO «Yakutia – Our Opinion» in Special Consultative Status with the ECOSOC of UN propose this project to protect civil rights in Russia by:

-providing normal work conditions for foreign-funded NGOs — ‘foreign agents’ and  foreign-NGOs  — ‘unwanted organizations’;

-stopping illegal criminalization of human rights activities.

 

In recent years Russian government imposed many legislative or administrative barriers that:

-restrict the activities of non-commercial organizations by laws on ‘foreign agents’, ‘unwanted organizations’;

-criminalize human rights activities by Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code (illegal qualification of human rights activities as extremist activities), article 275 (illegal qualification of work with the UN and international organizations as state treason and espionage), draft article on responsibility for inciting sanctions.

 

Project aim – protection of rights of independent NGOs in Russia using international legal tools through:

justification of illegality the introduction of these laws that suppress civil society;

appeal to the United Nations and other international organizations to urge Russia to refuse these laws.

 

The Project was supported by Coalition in support of the human rights defenders – Community of Russian human rights organizations.

Coalition activities are supported by:

-Moscow Helsinki Group;

-Human Rights Center «Memorial»;

-Youth Human Rights Movement;

-Committee Against Torture;

-Movement «For Human Rights».

Here is information in support of the project (in russian)

https://hrdco.org/news/antikorruptsionnaya-ekspertiza-statej-uk-rf-ugrozhayushhih-pravozashhitnoj-deyatelnosti

 

1.) Problems of independent civil society in Russia

and justification of consideration of them at global level

 

People and civil society play significant role in democratic procceses.

Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established:

«Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government».

People express their opinion through independent NGOs.

Sometimes authorities of different countries suppress civil society and create controlled NGOs aimed at justifying the anti-people state policy.

Unfortunately human rights situation in Russia is very bad. Russian authorities violate rights of independent NGOs that have not any opportunity to influence situation.

I describe this in following table.

 

Stakeholders The degree of influence

on decision making and governance

People People have not normal opportunity to influence situation because russian authorities are irresponsible to the people and violate electoral law.
Independent NGOs They collect information about the real situation and develop objective proposals.
NGOs depending on

the authorities

They deny information about the real situation and make proposal in accordance with the political situation
Buffer quasi-state entities (Russian Public chamber, the National front, the all-Russian  Council of non-profit organizations and others) They negate acute problems and express pseudo-people  interests that lead to a distortion of the society needs and adoption of anti-people and wrong strategic decisions, but necessary for corrupted officials and oligarchs of Russia.

Proposals from independent CSOs are accepted only at the stage of gathering information about problems, before stage of decision-making. In these conditions wrong management decisions are adopted.

State bodies They adopt wrong and non-objective decisions without regard to the CSOs opinion. Russian civil society is used to legitimize the anti-people decisions and justify abnormal state policy.

 

Regrettably russian authorities counteract to activity of independent NGOs.

I identify 2 main problems:

1.) restrictions of activities of foreign-funded NGOs — ‘foreign agents’ and  foreign-NGOs  — ‘unwanted organizations’;

2.) illegal criminalization of human rights activities.

Let’s describe them.

 

Problem No. 1  Restrictions of the NGO activities

 

Russian people and civil society can not normally participate in decision-making  and governance because they have not financial independence amid russian government crackdown.

Russian independent NGOs have many obstacles to access to foreign and national funding sources.

There are 2 main problems:

— absence of normal work conditions for foreign-funded NGOs — ‘foreign agents’ and  foreign-NGOs  — ‘unwanted organizations’;

— non-transparency and secrecy of grant funding for NGOs.

It leads to political motivated restriction of activity of independent NGOs that have not enough funding opportunities.

You can see actual problems in table.

 

  Access to Access to funding
 

Stakeholders

decision-making  and governance Russian

 funding sources

Foreign

funding sources

Independent NGOs None. Low.

In most cases they do not receive funding including even they have competitive advantages.

Adoption of ‘Foreign Agents’ law  led to  absence of normal work conditions for foreign-funded NGOs –

‘foreign agents’.

NGOs depending on the authorities Their proposal and decisions are agreed with the russian authorities. High.

Non-transparency allow  to fund only NGOs depending on the authorities without  competitive advantages.

There is no need.

 

 

So russian authorities violate citizen’s rights to decision-making, governance, freedom of opinion and access to public budget.

In this regard, I proposed 2 following measures.

 

Measure No.1  Amendment to ‘Foreign Agents’, ‘Unwanted organizations’laws  

In 2012, Russia adopted legislation requiring NGOs that receive foreign funding and engage in loosely defined “political” activity to voluntarily register as “foreign agents” with the Justice Ministry.

I made the initiative to amend ‘Foreign Agents’ law because definition of «NGO involved in political activity» violates requirements of legal clarity and consistency.

Now in accordance with political situation any foreign-funded NGO can be declared  as Foreign Agent and be prosecuted.

‘Foreign Agents’ law is aimed at limiting normal activities, imposing illegal burdens and punitive sanctions.

It is a genocide of Russian civil society. So we must change this situation.

I prepare anti-corruption expertise of ‘Foreign Agents’ law. I develop a definition of «NGOs involved in political activity» for release foreign-funded NGOs not involved in political activity from  repressions of russian state bodies.

You can see initiative in russian at http://yakutian.org/grant_2.htm

During the project time I develop the same expertise of ‘Unwanted organizations’ law.

 

Measure No.2 Amendment to legislation to ensure transparency of grant funding for NGOs

In pursuing transparency of grant funding for NGOs, I developed the following:

-Anti-corruption expertise of the Provisions of the open competition for grants to NGOs;

-Collective appeal of NGOs to russian state bodies;

-Analytical study «Analysis of the results of first stage of the competition for the allocation of grants to NGOs in 2014»;

-Letter to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation;

-Judicial claims to the Russian Supreme Court and to the Russian Arbitration court.

Materials in russian are available at http://yakutian.org/grant.htm

25 heads of NGOs from all Russia signed the collective appeal.

Many russian human rights activists expressed their support by phone and e-mail.

 

Problem No. 2  Illegal criminalization of human rights activities

 

There are 3 main ways for illegal criminalization of human rights activities in Russia. 

1.) Qualification of activities as extremist by Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code;

2.) Qualification of activities as state treason and espionage by Article 275 of the Russian Criminal Code;

3.) Potential qualification of activities as criminal by draft article of the Russian Criminal Code on responsibility for inciting sanctions.

 

 I consider these problems in my activity. 

The third problem is about my work directly because I as chief of NGO in Special Consultative Status with the UN ECOSOC have appealed to the United Nations bodies and stakeholders to take adequate coercive measures against the Russian Federation, that is, apply diplomatic, procedural, trade, financial and other sanctions.

You can see such demands in my submission to United Nations UPR

http://bit.ly/2zuWG5P

8 references to the data of our NGO are given at Summary of stakeholders’ information

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/RUindex.aspx

 

Criminalization of human rights activities by Article 282

 

This problem is considered in project “Legal protection of regional anticorruptioners conducting civil control in Russia”.

You can see it at http://ulgumda.ru/project_model_pravo_eng.htm

 

Project Aim — legal protection of regional anticorruptioners (civil activists, regional and municipal deputies) who are subjected to unlawful criminal and other persecution by corrupted officials, law enforcement officers and judgesas well as amendment of legislation and of law enforcement practice in Russia in order to develop tools to protect anticorruptioners.

You can see a case of the project:

-The legal expertise of the case of prosecution of the Kursk Regional Parliament deputy Olga Li in connection with the appeal «Following the President’s inaction counteraction will follow» of March 4, 2016 expressed for executing deputy duties to protect voters’ rights due to exhaustion of remedies.

http://yakutian.org/delo_k_1.htm

 

There are 2 main types of subjects of state anti-corruption policy:

-state bodies (law enforcement agencies, supervisory and oversight bodies, the judiciary);

-civil society institutions (civil activists) and representatives of voters’ interests  (regional and municipal deputies) involved in anti-corruption activities and have limited powers.

In the case of functioning of organized criminal group consisting of officials, law enforcement officers and judges in region, civil activists, regional and municipal deputies are often the only persons who can resist corruption.

Therefore, civil society play key roles in combating corruption.

The mechanism for considering citizens’ complaints is that in the majority of cases reports of corruption crimes are returned to the same level, that is, in fact to the same corruptioners.

Thus, exhaustion of remedies occurs, when federal government, law enforcement and judicial authorities refuse to consider citizens’ complaints on human rights violations substantially in the form of submitting unmotivated come-offs as well as redirecting them to the same offenders at regional level.

In order to suppress regional anticorruptioners, corruptioners (officials, law enforcement officers and judges) illegally open criminal cases against anticorruptioners.

 

Criminalization of human rights activities by Article 275 and

draft article on responsibility for inciting sanctions

 

In the article “Attack on the human rights protection in Yalutia” at the link http://stepanpetrov.blogspot.com/2018/08/blog-post.html I describe on how local corruptioners threaten me to bring to criminal responsibility for inciting sanctions against Russia.

Acording to Article 275 high treason is provision of financial, logistical, consultative or other assistance to a foreign state, international or foreign organization or their representatives in activities directed against the security of the Russian Federation.

So my interaction with UN bodies can be potentially classified as criminal. 

Russian secret  services may recognize providing information on human rights violations  in Russia to UN bodies as committing a crime under the article 275.

I believe that these threats are politically motivated and inadmissible in a democratic state.

 

The UN Charter provides adoption of coercive measures against UN member states that violate the universally recognized human rights and freedoms enshrined in international law.

My initiatives to impose sanctions against Russia are in line with the UN Charter and international law.

My principle position is that:

-while in a number of countries human rights are violated and state policy is implemented in the interests of the minority (corrupt officials and oligarchs) to the detriment of the majority

the priorities of the state policy should be critically analyzed for the purpose of revealing violations of the interests of the majority and adjusting to the need to implement universally recognized international human rights and, if necessary, coercive measures should be applied.

The coercive measures can not be considered «interference in the internal affairs» of the state, since they are not related to the impact of any country or group of countries, but relate to the implementation of universally recognized international norms. It is connected with the country’s fulfillment of the obligations assumed upon voluntary membership in the UN.

Before to declare that the demands of the international community for the observance of human rights are «intrigues of enemies», Russia must withdraw from the UN and declare contradiction of international law to national legislation.

 

During the project time I will develop analisys and expertise of illegal application of article 275 (illegal qualification of work with the UN and international organizations as state treason and espionage) and potential application of draft article on responsibility for inciting sanctions.

 

2.) Methods and Approaches

 

Solving problems of ordinary people is often impossible in Russia.

Problem solution involves organization of a sequence of actions and work at different levels.

I offer the following sequence of actions based on my understanding of problem solution.

The problem solving process:

1.Formulation of the problem;

2.Analysis of the situation;

3.Development of problem-solving measures;

4.Implementation of measures;

5.Monitoring of implementation and adjustment of measures.

 

Stage of problem-solving Actions
1. Formulation

of the problem

Problem statement:

1.) restrictions of activities of foreign-funded NGOs — ‘foreign agents’ and  foreign-NGOs  — ‘unwanted organizations’;

2.) illegal criminalization of human rights activities.

2. Analysis of the situation Legislation and policy analysis.  Review of good practices of

problem solution. Project of problem solution in each field.

One of the basic approaches is conducting anti-corruption reviews.

3. Development of problem-solving measures Development of measures
4. Implementation of measures at different levels*

 

1. At national level We have exhausted domestic remedies

in Russia.

2. So We need to apply international legal tools such as

applications to the UN, ECHR, other international organizations.

Their recommendations and decisions have to force Russia to change legislation and state policy.

5. Monitoring of implementation and adjustment of measures* Reports on implementation of decisions,

modification of earlier decisions and measures.

* The last 2 items are desirable, but it may be impossible due to objective reasons.

So they must be implemented by states. But I will do everything in my power for their implementation.

 

Development of qualitative applications to the UN, ECHR, other international organizations requires proper in-depth and comprehensive policy analysis in the context of compliance with international law.

This work is at the intersection of theory and practice. I intend to study theoretical basis of civil society functioning and problem-solving experience of USA and other countries.

I intend to learn the best world experience and practically apply it using status of NGO in Special Consultative Status with the ECOSOC of the United Nations.

Methods involve library research, personal interviews, site visits, presentation, statement, discussion, debate, workshop, seminar.

I also want to contribute my experience among other countries and regions, as possible, through development of universal approaches to solve problems. If my efforts improve the situation in Russia, then it will have a positive impact on other post-soviet countries.

We must unite for full implementation of international law and development of independent civil society around the world.

 

3.)  Anti-corruption examination of articles 275, 282,

draft article on responsibility for inciting sanctions (284.2),

the laws on ‘foreign agents’ and ‘unwanted organizations’

 

Our NGO have conducted examination of these articles threatening to human rights activities.

Further, they will be appealed to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.

Subsequently, I will appeal to the UN, EU bodies and other international organizations to urge Russia to cancel their actions and bring the situation in accordance with international law.

In the course of this work, analyzes, studies and appeals to the federal and international bodies will be developed. One of the forms of them is anti-corruption review.

I present the work plan in tabular form.

 

Levels Project stages, documents

for amending the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (article 275, article 282, article 284.2), the laws on ‘foreign agents’ and ‘unwanted organizations’

National level

1.) State authorities:

Prosecutor General’s Office,

Ministry of Justice,

2.) Stakeholders: Commissioner for Human Rights, the President’s  Council on development of civil society and human rights

3.) Supreme Court

At the moment, anti-corruption reviews of articles 282, 275 and 284.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation have been carried out and sent to state authorities.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation refused to consider them.

This is evidence that consideration of these issues in Russia will be probably unsuccessful

Soon anti-corruption reviews of the laws on ‘foreign agents’ and ‘unwanted organizations’ will be made.

 

Global level

1.) UN

2.) EU bodies

3.) International human rights bodies

I plan to develop analyzes, studies and appeals concerning the project and based

on the anti-corruption reviews

Complaint to UN bodies

http://ouropinion.pro/?page_id=328

Statement to Russian President and state bodies

http://ouropinion.pro/?page_id=231

At the moment, reviews of articles 282, 275 and 284.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation has been carried out.

Reviews are available on my blog.

http://stepanpetrov.blogspot.com/2018/12/282.html article 282

http://stepanpetrov.blogspot.com/2018/12/275.html article 275

http://stepanpetrov.blogspot.com/2018/12/284-2_61.html article 284.2

 

Refusals of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation are here.

https://cloud.mail.ru/public/MudQ/4CyVEapuD article 275

https://cloud.mail.ru/public/Dwqi/DoWpQ8LJV article 282

https://cloud.mail.ru/public/MN6r/Vb1BEUuXs article 2842

 

This is evidence that consideration of these issues in Russia will be probably unsuccessful, including potential refusal in the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.

Since these laws are aimed at implementing the state policy of suppression of civil society in Russia.

Russian authorities will not allow amending these repressive laws in accordance with international law.

Although, according to Article 9 of the Law on the Prosecutor’s Office, “When a prosecutor establishes the need to improve existing regulations, in the course of exercising his powers, he has the right to submit proposals for amendment, repeal or adoption of laws and other regulatory legal acts to the legislative bodies and state bodies”.

It is a formal non-effective approach of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation.