The human rights organization “MASHR” is included in the list of organizations who lodged a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights on the Federal Law № 121-FZ of June 20 2012 introducing “Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation regarding the Regulation of Activities of Nonprofit Organizations performing the Functions of Foreign Agents”.
Please, tell us, Mr. Mutsolgov, how did this initiative arise?
The initiative of submitting a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) appeared as a result of the discussion on the situation that has emerged with the adoption of a new law. The Russian human rights community, together with the Ingush one, discussed various options, one of which was to appeal to the ECHR. We considered it possible to participate in the submission of a joint complaint to the ECHR.
Who prepared the complaint?
The application was prepared by the lawyers of the Human Rights Center “Memorial” and in particular by Furkat Tishaev.
How is it that the complaint was sent namely by these eleven organizations? For instance, why not more?
It happened so. There could have been more applicants to the ECHR. Why eleven? There were no fundamental limitations or special agreements: those who considered it possible to take part in the submission of the joint complaint and managed to gather the necessary documents, were among the applicants. There are no pitfalls in the matter at all.
Tell us a bit about your organization. How the law is particularly affecting you?
All information about the activities of the Human Rights Organization “MASHR” are posted on the website: www.mashr.org. On this website, everybody can read annual reports on the situation of human rights in the Republic of Ingushetia. There one can also find the lists of kidnapped, missing and killed people. Over the last eight years, the Human Rights Organization “MASHR” has provided free legal information and assistance to the people of the Republic of Ingushetia: the nature of our activities is exclusively charitable. The position of the Human Rights Organization “MASHR” is not to be engaged in any political activity. At the least, we were surprised by the position of the regional office of the Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in the Republic of Ingushetia. By words of its head, in an interview to the agency “Interfax” the Ingush FSB claimed that there are three organizations in the Republic that shall be subjected to the new law, and one of them is the Human Rights Organization “MASHR”. The interview focused on the amendments made to the current legislation in the field of non-profit organizations’ activities, in terms of the execution of some of the NGOs’ functions as “foreign agents”.
The Law itself is of an anti-national and anti-constitutional nature. It represents one of the elements in the chain of State Duma’s law-making products during its last convocation. Sad conclusions have to be drawn over the activities of legislators during the last Duma’s convocation, for their initiatives were influenced by personal emotions and ambitions. For example, one can recall the situation with the initiative to ban the work of television workers with double citizenship, that was caused by the statement of Vladimir Pozner against the deputies themselves. Following the logic of their responses to this statement, it has to be said that the quality of the legislative initiatives has influenced their mood and emotionality. If this continues, then laws based on marital offences of the deputies themselves can surely appear in our country. For having quarreled with his wife, one comes to work in the State Duma to prepare a new bill prohibiting, for instance, the deputies’ spouses to express remarks on their better half.
What exactly do you expect from the application to the ECHR? How do you estimate the chances of success?
In my opinion, the most important task is to change the “Law on Foreign Agents”. We know that there are precedents in the practice of the ECHR, but we will not make conjectures by coffee grounds. In the future, all our decisions will be made on the basis of the existing situation.
Was there already any reaction from the Russian government?
So far I have not seen any reaction from the authorities.
I see. Magomed, your organization has been a member of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum since the very moment of its creation. In what do you see the advantages and the potentials of the Forum?
The Forum is a good platform for NGOs in different countries. I think that the potential of the Forum is huge and the organizations, involved in various thematic issues, can easily find like-minded people, naturally share their experiences, implement joint projects, provide support to each other. All of the above mentioned is of considerable importance for all NGOs in Russia and in the EU countries. We are always open for cooperation, we see ourselves as part of the international human rights community.
February 17, 2013
The conversation was led by Polina Baigarova, EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.
The Autonomous Non-profit Organization “Human Rights Organization MASHR” is a member of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum since 29.03.2011.