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Премия рунета 2017

WWF Russia is concerned by prosecution of the ecological NGOs

14 april 2017
In office of the «Environmental Watch on North Caucasus», independent ecological organization, recognized earlier as a «foreign agent», there passes the search. WWF follows the developments.

According to media reports, on April, 14 in Krasnodar law enforcement officers have carried out a search at office of «Environmental Watch on North Caucasus ». According to the lawyer Andrey Sabinin, employees of law enforcement agencies have cut a door to get to the office. What the search is connected with, it isn't known yet, staff of the ecological organization are inaccessible for comments.

Lack of explanations of the events from representatives of law enforcement agencies cause serious concern of the WWF. Laws of the Russian Federation shouldn't be broken. However, pressure upon the NGOs, which are engaged in conservation and protection of the rights of the citizens, guaranteed by the Constitution of our country, is inadmissible. First of all, it is necessary to understand a situation and to explain the reason of similar actions, concerning ecologists.

«Unfortunately, in Krasnodar region special aggression in relation to independent ecologists is observed long ago — Igor Chestin, the director of the WWF Russia comments. — It is enough to remember a trumped-up case against Evgeny Vitishko and Suren Gazaryan. Gazaryan, because of prosecution, has been forced to be granted a political asylum in the neighboring country. I think, the exception of »Environmental Watch on North Caucasus« of the register of foreign agents of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, as it has already happened to » Environmental Watch on Sakhalin«», would be the good system decision.

«Environmental Watch on North Caucasus» has been recognized as a “foreign agent” in September, 2016. In reply representatives of NGO have submitted a claim on the decision of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation. The court session on this case has taken place on February, 22, but the court has decided to postpone process almost for a month. Such decision has been connected with an order of the president of Russia Vladimir Putin to the first deputy chief of staff of the Presidential Administration of Russia Sergey Kiriyenko and the president's special envoy for transportation and the environment Sergei Ivanov to consider a question of practice of application of the law on NGO - «foreign agents», including concerning the ecological organizations. The assignment has been given in December, 2016 at a meeting of Council for development of civil society and to human rights.

The foreign agent law works in Russia since 2012. Several tens of the ecological organizations for it have been recognized as a “foreign agents”, including «The ecological center »Dront«, »Ekozashchita!«, “Bellona Murmansk” and “Bellona St. Petersburg”, »Siberian Ecological Center«, »Environmental Watch on Sakhalin« and many others. However, on April, 10 of the current year »Environmental Watch on Sakhalin« has been excluded by the decision of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation from the register of NGO - »foreign agents«. WWF earlier repeatedly pointed, that norms are stated in the law in such a way that allow to treat randomly such concepts as »political activity«, »political action« and »formation of public opinion'.

Caucasus mountains
© Vyacheslav Moroz/WWF Russia
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Director WWF