Committee Against Torture receives its first Presidential Grant, reports «Kommersant» newspaper


03 September 2013

The Interregional Non-Governmental Organization «Committee Against Torture» (CAT) has received a grant – financial support from the President of Russia in the sum of 4 million rubles. As Igor Kalyapin, the Chairman of CAT, told us, it has been the first financial help from the State since the organization was established 13 years ago.

According to Mr Kalyapin, the Committee asked for money for the current activity: lawyers’ salaries, hiring advocates, payments for expert examinations, travel expenses, medical assistance for applicants. «The average current activity costs of the central office together with all our regional branches equal to about 35 million rubles per year. We receive the funding from seven or eight donors from different countries. This is what guarantees our financial and political independence. The fact that we have never received money from Russia before this grant didn’t entail shortage of funds, but we were concerned about the lack of attention to the problems we try to solve», says Igor Kalyapin. He noticed that the problem of torture has attracted more attention of public and press lately, including due to the Committee’s work, and «seems more acute now, so the State has to react somehow».

Anton Prusakov

«Kommersant» in Nizhny Novgorod

Igor Kalyapin has also commented on the news, first published by the «Izvestia» and then widely broadcast by media, in his blog. According to the information by numerous mass media organizations, a source close to the Kremlin confirmed that the The Golos Association («golos» means «vote» or «voice», the NGO monitors elections) was not included into the list of the Presidential grant beneficiaries due to fact that «among all the organizations disloyal to the State authorities, «Golos» is the only one which continues to demonstrate unwillingness to obey the NGO Law».

The Chairman of the Committee Against Torture calls this statement a lie and provocation. He once again explains his standpoint concerning the so-called «Law on Foreign Agents»: «I, as well as the INGO «Committee Against Torture» have from the very beginning been dead set against the «foreign agent» law. I am convinced that the law contains a lot of harmful and meaningless provisions. But that’s not the point. I am ready to obey lots of absurdities of this «law» as regards excessive financial reporting which no one is in fact interested in, which is never examined by anyone. But I will never, whatever the circumstances, agree to the shame of calling myself something I have never been – a foreign agent. I refuse to accept that authorities (any) have the right to compel me to engage in criminal activity, I deny their right to coerce me into bearing false witness against myself, into slandering my name. Under my leadership, the Committee Against Torture has always acted in the interests of Russia, its nationals and other people living in our country. I am prepared to be held accountable for my refusal to obey this «law» that doesn’t comply with any legal standards, that conflicts with the Constitution. I will obey any punishment imposed by court, I will not try to avoid it. But I have never been a «foreign agent», and I am not going to become anything of the sort. I have repeatedly expressed this standpoint of mine. For instance, in the interview to the «Kommersant» (by the way, for this interview the Ombudsman for Nizhny Novgorod region requests initiating criminal proceedings against me). I have never told anyone, neither in public, nor in private, that our attitude could be changed under circumstances. I have never done anything that could enable one to assume so. I’m not obeying this law, I will never call myself a foreign agent in my own country. All the dirty hinting that the organizations that receive the Presidential grants (including the Committee Against Torture) are, unlike “Golos”, ready to compromise concerning the «Foreign Agent Law», is done with the purpose of sowing discord within human rights community. A naive and unwise try».

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