Documentary online project tells about the life of Russian human rights defenders


20 November 2015

Yesterday International Youth Human Rights Movement and human rights organization «Civil Control» (Saint-Petersbourg) launched a video portal «Human Rights Defenders», which will tell the audience about the daily work of Russian human rights defenders in the environment of risk and pressure. 

The project’s launch is timed to coincide with the third anniversary of «On non-commercial organizations» law amendments entry into legal force, due to which the registry of non-commercial organizations «performing the functions of foreign agents» was established. The organizations included in this registry, must put the corresponding marking on all their materials, stating that they were published by a «foreign agent»

The new human rights resource features video, photo and interview, representing the real life of human rights defenders. These materials provide a rare opportunity to observe the life, leisure and work of Russian human rights organizations officers, activists and volunteers.

The project opens up with a video footage of the life of the Committee «Civic Assistance» (Moscow) and a Human Rights Commission from Komi, «Memorial» (Syktyvkar). And in December the audience will see materials about the life of four more human rights organizations: International network «Youth Human Rights Movement», «The Committee for Prevention of Torture» (Nizhny Novgorod), «Soldiers’ mothers of St.Petersburg» and Foundation named after Andrey Rylkov (Moscow).

Based on the examples of the first characters of the project the web resource demonstrates the diversity of human rights NGO’s topics and spheres of work: from the search for the information about the victims of Stalin’s purges in the archives to assistance for drug-addicts. The materials of the project will help you to learn how the support of people, seeking for refuge in Russia, is organized, how the police and prison torture cases are investigated, how the educational projects dedicated to human rights for children, youth and the Federal Penitentiary Service officers are arranged.

– The project’s name and all its materials will always feature a word combination «a foreign agent», but it does not mean that the whole project is dedicated exclusively to how the organizations fight this humiliating label and the barriers that it involves. We use this association with agents as a trigger to attract the attention of the sector of the society which usually does not see us. Together with the project team we decided that since we are labeled foreign agents it is a reality which cannot be ignored, it is a lot better to acknowledge it and try to convert it to own use. Our main objective is to attract the public attention to our work, describe how we live on a daily basis, show our colleagues who very often remain in the shade, rather than the organizations’ leaders, many of whom are well-known in their own right», – Anna Dobrovolskaya, one of the project’s coordinators, says.

Discussing the project’s format its authors came to the conclusion that the genre of video documentary will allow to be more objective to human rights defenders activity. During the shooting the film crew tried not to participate in the events but remained outside observers. These observations resulted in short video plots, each of them featured several episodes from the life of human rights NGOs. During the editing the authors tried to exclude their own judgment and intonation in order to avoid becoming a middleman between the characters and the audience.
Project’s website

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