Today, on 29 January 2015, in Nizhny Novgorod office of INGO «The Committee Against Torture» members of the Council of this organization with participation of the Prosecutor’s Office representatives examined the citation of Nizhny Novgorod Prosecutor Oleg Ponasenko on redressing the violations of the federal legislation. As we have previously reported, the case involves the Prosecutor’s citation, on the basis of which, apparently, the Committee Against Torture was included by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation in the List of non-governmental organizations, performing functions of foreign agents.
Today during more than an hour Chairman of the Committee Against Torture Igor Kalyapin was presenting the view of the organization in relation to this act of the Prosecutor’s response, in detail examining all the items which are used by Nizhny Novgorod Prosecutor in order to charge the Committee Against Torture with political activity.
Based on the laws of the Russian Federation, including the ones interpreting the notion of political activity, Kalyapin attempted to get his message across to the Senior Assistant of Nizhny Novgorod region Prosecutor Andrey Dukhan and Nizhny Novgorod Prosecutor Assistant Roman Yashin explaining that the activity of the Committee Against Torture is not aiming at changing the state policy but at its implementation and improvement.
The position of the Committee Against Torture on the citation of Nizhny Novgorod Prosecutor
On 29 December 2014 the Committee Against Torture received the citation of Nizhny Novgorod Prosecutor O.Ponasenko dated 29 December 2014 ref.No.27-06-2014 on redressing the violations of the federal legislation.
INGO «The Committee Against Torture» expresses its complete disagreement with the presented act of the Prosecutor response.
The Prosecutor’s conclusion that «the organization is taking part in political activity at the same time receiving funds from foreign sources without application for registering in the List of non-commercial organizations performing functions of a foreign agent», is unfounded and unsubstantiated, of which it will be reported in detail below.
1) In the beginning of the citation the Prosecutor indicates the following: «According to the Charter, the objectives of INGO «The Committee Against Torture» activity is contribution to public opinion shaping on unacceptability of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by the state representatives; improvement and development of legislation in the part of countering torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
At the same time, shaping public opinion and expression of views of citizens on any issues of public life, bringing these opinions to notice of wide audience and official authorities, according to p.4 of Article 3 of Federal law No.95-FZ dated 11 July 2011 «On political parties», are the main objectives of political parties’ activity.
In this case the Prosecutor in fact performs a substitution of notions, stretching the law and erroneously applying the norms of the Federal law «On political parties» to the activity of non-commercial organizations.
In part 1 of Article 3 of the above-mentioned federal law it is established that «a political party is a private association created for the purpose of the Russian Federation citizens taking part in the political life of the society by shaping and expressing their political will, taking part in public and political actions, elections and referendums, as well as aiming at representing the interests of citizens in the public authorities and local government authorities».
So, it is in the framework of the abovementioned objectives that the political parties are dealing with, among other things, public opinion shaping. And in this context, undoubtedly, such shaping will be a political activity.
However, shaping public opinion per se can be performed (and is performed) not by political parties but by other subjects, and with completely different objectives which have nothing to do with political activity.
In addition, in p.6 of Article 2 of Federal law No. 7-FZ dated 12 January 1996 “On non-commercial organizations” the definition of the political activity is provided relating to non-commercial organizations, and according to this definition public opinion shaping is considered political activity only when it is conducted in order to influence the state authorities to take decisions aiming at changing the state policy which they perform.
Moreover, the abovementioned regulation distinguishes between the political parties (as being created with strictly defined objectives) and other non-commercial organizations: «A non-commercial organization, except for a political party, is considered to be taking part in the political activity conducted on the territory of the Russian Federation, if, regardless of the goals and objectives indicated in its constituent documents, it is involved in (including via funding) organizing and conducting political actions in order to influence the state authorities to take decisions aiming at changing the state policy which they perform, as well as public opinion shaping for the abovementioned purposes».
Therefore, a simple logical conclusion follows – public opinion shaping by non-commercial organizations in order to influence the state authorities to take decisions aiming at implementing the state policy which they perform, is not a political activity.
So, the attempt to interpret public opinion shaping as such to be an attribute of political activity is a substitution of notions. In order to charge a non-commercial organization with a public opinion shaping being an attribute of a political activity it is necessary to prove that the objective of public opinion shaping was precisely changing the performed state policy.
2) According to the Constitution of the Russian Federation Russia is a law-bound state (p.1 Article 1), in which the man, his rights and freedoms are considered to be the supreme value, and recognition, observation and protection of rights and freedoms of the man and the citizen is a duty of the state (Article 2). The rights and freedoms of the man and the citizen are directly applicable, they define the sense, content and application of laws, activity of legislative and executive powers, local government bodies and are provided by justice (Article 18). Among other things the governing law of the state establishes that no-one can be subjected to torture, violence, other brutal or degrading treatment or punishment (p.2 Article 21). At the same time the rights of victims of crimes and power abuse are protected by the law, and the state provides the victims with access to justice and compensation of the inflicted damage (Article 52).
On 28 July 2011 the President of RF approved the Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation in the sphere of law knowledge and legal awareness of citizens, in which it is indicated that the «Development of the law-bound state, civil society shaping and enhancing national consent in Russia demand advanced legal culture, without which such basic values and principles of the society’s life as supremacy of law, priority of the man, his inalienable rights and freedoms, providing reliable protection of public interests cannot be fully realized. These Basic Principles aim at shaping a high level of the legal culture of the population, tradition of unconditional respect of the law, public order and the court, well-doing and fair practice as a predominant model of social behavior, as well as overcoming legal nihilism in the society which hinders the development of Russia as a modern civilized state. The state policy is performed in close cooperation with the civil society structures. The state supports (in the form of social partnership) the activity of non-governmental organizations which contributes to fulfilling the objectives of the state policy».
And in the RF Government Decree No.312 dated 15 April 2014 “On approval of the state program of the Russian Federation «Justice» it is stated that «priorities and objectives of the state policy in the sphere of justice in the Russian Federation lie in observing human rights and basic freedoms, improving the level of protection of rights and lawful interests of citizens and organizations, improving the quality of execution of the court rulings, acts of other bodies and verdicts».
In addition, the objectives of the approved program «Justice» is «development a rule-of-law pattern of citizens’ behavior, overcoming legal nihilism, supporting sustainable respect of the law and increasing confidence in justice».
Therefore, is can be stated that implementation of the principles, pronounced in the Constitution of RF represents the basis of the state policy.
As it is quite correctly pointed out in the Prosecutor’s citation, «according to the Charter, objectives of INGO «The Committee Against Torture» are contribution to public opinion shaping on unacceptability of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by representatives of state authorities; improvement and development of legislation in the part of countering torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment».
Thus, it is perfectly clear that the objectives of the Committee Against Torture are in full compliance with the state policy lines on implementation of basic constitutional norms in the sphere of providing citizens’ protection against torture.
Precisely within the framework of implementation of the abovementioned objectives the Committee Against Torture performed actions and steps which are groundlessly classified by the Prosecutor as political activity, as he puts in his citation.
3) The first item which our organization is charged with – application of the Organization to the UN Committee Against Torture and the report about torture in Russia, prepared by INGO “The Committee Against Torture” in cooperation with the «Public Verdict» foundation and published by ACAT association from France. These reports give «negative evaluation of the actions of the Russian Federation, which failed to fulfill the full scope of recommendations of the UN Committee, thus discrediting law-enforcing agencies of the state in the eyes of the international community».
At the same time it is unclear how the Prosecutor came to conclusion about the organization’s objective to «discredit…» – no reasons for such statement are provided in the citation.
According to p.6 Article 2 of Federal law No. 7-FZ dated 12.01.1996 «On non-commercial organizations», «A non-commercial organization, except for a political party, is considered to be taking part in political activity conducted on the territory of the Russian Federation, if, regardless of goals and objectives indicated in its constituent documents, it is involved in (including via funding) organizing and conducting political actions in order to influence the state authorities to take decisions aiming at changing the state policy which they perform, as well as public opinion shaping for the abovementioned purposes».
Therefore, even if the objective of «discrediting the law-enforcement agencies» is assumed, it is not equivalent of the objective to influence changing of the state policy. Even more important is the fact that the objective of the report and application publication was not discrediting law-enforcement agencies, but attracting public attention as well as the attention of state authorities to current problems in implementation of current state policy aiming at their subsequent solving.
Further on the Prosecutor informs that «the described facts have to be considered as actions aimed at shaping a certain public opinion and influencing the state authorities aiming at impelling them to take a corresponding political decision, and, as a consequence – statutory and regulatory enactments in the sphere of execution of punishment and implementation of criminal persecution of criminals».
However, the Prosecutor did not prove that the organization influenced passing such statutory and regulatory enactments in the sphere of execution of punishment and implementation of criminal persecution of criminals, which contradict the state policy. Moreover, we think that fulfilling the international obligations incurred and recommendations of the international bodies is actually one of the focal points of implementation of the Russian Federation state policy. Thus, «negative evaluation of the Russian Federation actions on failing to fulfill the full scope of the UN Committee recommendations» – is an attempt to exert influence aiming at complete implementation of the state policy of Russia, not its changing.
And absence of such attribute as taking part (including via funding) in organizing and conducting political actions in order to influence the state authorities to take decisions aiming at changing the state policy which they perform, as well as public opinion shaping for the abovementioned purposes, makes it impossible to classify a non-commercial organization as performing functions of a foreign agent, even if activities arranged (conducted) with its participation were objectively linked with criticism of the official authorities decisions or caused negative evaluations in public opinion of the state policy run by them – the RF Constitutional Court explicitly stated this in p.3.1 of Decree No.10-P dated 8 April 2014.
This means that criticism of the official authorities’ decisions and negative evaluations in public opinion caused by the criticism per se cannot be the cause for classifying a non-commercial organization as performing the functions of a foreign agent.
It is also necessary to make notice of the fact that the Prosecutor did not state that the facts contained in our report do not reflect reality or are distorted; truthfulness of the data published by the organization is implicitly admitted. Thus, cause-and-effect relationship in the logics of the Prosecutor makes a swift turn: Russia’s negative image is created not by the criticized actions of the RF state agencies officials, but only by their public disclosure.
4) Developing and publishing the brochures «Creating the special units of the Investigative Committee of RF as a method of solving the problem of inefficient investigation of torture cases», «Legal monitoring of appellate proceeding in the procedure of Chapter 45.1 of the Criminal Procedural Code of RF: resulting conclusions» and «Legal monitoring of judicial practice of examining criminal cases in appellate instance. Part 2» is mentioned as another attribute of political activity. These brochures contain proposals for improving the legislation, which is, in the opinion of the Prosecutor, is direct implementation of the objective of the state policy changing.
However, in reality these proposals are aimed not at changing but exclusively at more effective and complete implementation of the state policy. Changing and improving certain procedural norms serves for execution of the guarantees which are provided by the Constitution, not changing the latter in any way.
Moreover, proposals for improvement of the legislation are part of any thesis for a Candidate Degree or a Doctor Degree of Legal Sciences (and even in every end-of-year paper of a student of a law department), being mandatory element of these studies for compliance with the criteria for scientific papers. But such studies are not considered (and cannot be considered) to be a political activity. In the similar way, the mentioned brochures shall be treated as research and practice studies.
It also has to be mentioned that the legislation differentiates between political and research activity. For example, in Article 3 of Law of the RF No. 3132-1dated 26.06.1992 «On the status of judges in the Russian Federation» it is specified that the judges are prohibited to be engaged in any political activity, however, they are permitted to take up research activities.
5) As is indicated in the citation, «On 26.06.2013 and 26.06.2014 the Organization conducted pickets at Teatral’naya square of Nizhegorodsky district of Nizhny Novgorod city, in the course of which Chairman of the Organization I.Kalyapin, dressed in a T-shirt with the official branding of INGO «The Committee Against Torture» and other participants of the activity used posters with inscription: «Inaction of the Investigative Committee is the cause of torture», and also expressed negative evaluation of the law-enforcement agencies’ actions…
Study of the mentioned materials allows making a conclusion that actions of the Organization were aimed at attracting public attention as well as the attention of the state authorities directly aiming at negative public opinion shaping for impelling the state authorities to take corresponding political decisions, namely, changing the conducted state policy in the sphere of execution of criminal persecution».
The Prosecutor does not explain what changing of the state policy, in his opinion, the pickets of 26 June are aimed at.
In our view, expressing opinion on the necessity of criminal persecution of persons guilty of abuse of office, as well as on necessity of enhancing the effectiveness of conducted investigation of torture complaints to the full extent pursues the objective of supporting the state policy which is already being conducted.
This to the full extent corresponds to rights vested in the Constitution of RF (the right to defense against crime, right to defense against torture, violence, other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and the international commitments undertaken by Russia (taking part in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the UN Convention Against Torture, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, etc.). Therefore, the objectives of 26 June pickets are in full compliance with the existing state policy vector.
In the course of 26 June 2013 pickets I.Kalyapin gave interview in which he criticized creating special departments within the system of the Investigative Committee of RF (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KC27htzO2Q) in the way in which it was implemented. However, criticism of the authorities (decisions of the state authorities), as it is explained in the decree of the RF Constitutional Court cited above, cannot be considered an attribute of political activity per se, and cannot be the reason for including an organization in the List of organizations performing functions of foreign agents.
6) Next episode of political activity which the Committee Against Torture is charged with is taking part in the EU-Russia Civil Forum.
As it is correctly specified in the citation, the Forum is a permanent ground for cooperation of the EU countries and Russia civil society organizations as well as for influencing the EU and Russia state bodies and development of a dialogue with them and other European and Russian partners.
The current line of Russian state policy is aimed at cooperation with the EU, at development of horizontal links between Russian and European communities. Participation of the Committee Against Torture in the Forum is contributing to fulfilling these objectives. The Forum itself does not make changing the state policy its mission, but rather, just like the Committee Against Torture, seeks to contribute to implementation of positive cooperation as a declared objective of the Russian state.
7) Another attribute of political activity became including I.Kalyapin in the interdepartmental task group for elaborating proposals aimed at adjustment of certain provisions of the Russian Federation correctional system concept of development till 2020. I.Kalyapin was included in the group by the RF Government decree No.1616-р dated 9 September 2013. The list of group members is specified in the citation by names, which means including in the group expressly in a private capacity. Position and work place of I.Kalyapin mentioned in the decree is nothing more than specifying information.
There have been no decisions on sending their representatives to the group by the governing bodies of the Committee Against Torture; no proposals from the official agencies to participate in such group’s work via a representative have been submitted either. In case of I.Kalyapin abandons the position of the Chairman of the Committee Against Torture his participation in the work of the group will not be finished.
In p.3.1 of Decree No. 10-P dated 8 April 2014 the RF Constitutional Court specified that in order to justify including the organization in the List of NCOs performing the functions of foreign agents, the objectives of influencing the state authorities taking decisions aimed at changing of the state policy conducted by them, shall be directly inherent to the activity of a non-commercial organization, but not of its individual members. This in full respect relates to participating of NCOs members in political actions in a private capacity at their own initiative.
That is why personal participation of I.Kalyapin in the work of interdepartmental task group, even if such participation is to be considered political activity, which is by no means undisputable either and is not proved by the Prosecutor, cannot be considered and is not considered as an attribute of an organization’s political activity.
8) Further on the Prosecutor points at the fact of the organization’s taking part in the Public Supervising Committee of Nizhny Novgorod region for human rights observance in detention facilities (hereinafter – PSC) via their representatives O.Khabibrakhmanov and D.Kazakov, apparently, considering this to be political activity, as well.
PSC activity is regulated by Federal law No.76-FZ dated 10 June 2008 «On public monitoring of human rights in places of detention and on assistance to detainees». According to p.1 Article 6 of this Federal law, and this regulation is mentioned by the Prosecutor himself, public supervising committees act in order to support implementation of the state policy in the sphere of human rights observance in detention facilities.
Therefore, the federal law directly establishes that the PSC activity is aimed at supporting the state policy implementation. Accordingly, taking part in PSC work by definition cannot be considered to be a type of political activity in the sense which is provided by the Federal law «On non-commercial organizations».
Moreover, PSC members take part in the work of the committee in a private capacity: the organization which sent them does not carry out management of the activity of PSC members. According to Federal No. 76-FZ dated 10 June 2008 «On public oversight of human rights observance in places of detention and on support of persons kept in detention facilities», a private association nominated a candidate for PSC membership, only reimburses the costs related with exercising his/her authority, and assists in providing material, technical and informational support of the corresponding public monitoring committee activity (part 1 Article 9). The organization cannot call off its member from the PSC membership, but only make a submission, which will be considered by the Public Chamber Council (p.9, Article 14).
Thus, imputation the Committee Against Torture with its representatives taking part in PSC work as a political activity is groundless.
Going on with the subject of PSC, the Prosecutor states the following: «In the framework of grant agreement No. 40021855 «Independent public oversight in places of detention», the objective of which is to support the Public Supervising Committee (PSC), the Organization was coordinating PSC activity and carried out is management. Timeline of agreement – from 1 January 2012 till 31 December 2012. In order to execute this agreement the Open Society Institute Support Foundation (USA) transferred funds to the settlement account of the organization, opened at JSC Vneshtorgbank branch in Nizhny Novgorod, in the amount of 593,860 RUB».
It should be mentioned that the Committee Against Torture did not coordinate PSC activity and did not carry out its management. In his citation the Prosecutor did not include grounds for any conclusion other than this.
Moreover, the sum of money specified by the Prosecutor, was received before the Federal law No.121-FZ dated 20 July 2012 «On Making Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation
Regarding the Regulation of Activities of Noncommercial Organizations
Performing the Functions of Foreign Agents», took effect, which means that in this case there is no foreign funding, and such funding is a mandatory attribute of the organization performing the functions of a foreign agent.
Next complaint of the Prosecutor is related to PSC activity as well – participation of Deputy Chairman of PSC O.Khabibrakhmanov in the press-conference, in the course of which the latter «publicly gives negative evaluation of the law-enforcement agencies activity for shaping negative public opinion on the state authorities activity in the sphere of execution of punishment and conducting a pre-trial investigation».
However, it should be pointed out that O.Khabibrakhmanov took part in that press-conference in the capacity of Deputy Chairman of PSC, not the Committee Against Torture representative.
In addition, the Prosecutor mentioned «shaping negative public opinion on the state authorities activity» as the objective of O.Khabibrakhmanov taking part in the press-conference. It is obvious that this statement of the Prosecutor is groundless; it remains unknown how the Prosecutor established the objective of taking part in the press-conference without conducting a check and questioning O.Khabibrakhmanov himself.
In reality O.Khabibrakhmanov pursued the objective of informing the general public about the facts of the federal legislation violations by the state authorities and calling for implementation of the state policy lines provided by the law. In any case, neither of the mentioned objectives indicates the intention of O.Khabibrakhmanov to change the state policy this way.
It should be also pointed out that the Prosecutor does not contradict facts reported by O.Khabibrakhmanov, but again considers that it is not the violations themselves but just the fact of making them public which shapes negative public opinion on the state authorities activities.
9) Another argument of the Prosecutor concerns the Chairman of INGO «The Committee Against Torture» I.Kalyapin’s work in the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights. Firstly, «Being a member of several target groups he took part in the amnesty draft analysis, which was executed at the end of 2013.
In the course of the work on this project members of human rights non-governmental organizations «Agora» and «The Committee Against Torture» oriented the State Duma of the Russian Federation not to amnesty the law-enforcement officers convicted for torture. The proposal was taken into consideration by the State Duma of the Russian Federation, and this category of lawbreakers was not included in the law on amnesty».
Secondly, in the «Statement of members of the Presidential Council in relation to events in Ukraine» dated 2 March 2014, also signed by I.Kalyapin, published at: http://www.president-sovet.ru/news/5632/, the necessity to completely exclude using Russian military forces in the course of settlement of internal Ukrainian political crisis is pointed out.
The analysis of this statement revealed that it is an act of information pressure exerted on the Russian Federation state authorities in order to impel them to take a certain political decision».
In this relation the following should be pointed out.
The first point. I.Kalyapin participates in the work of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, including the time of signing the «Statement of members of the Presidential Council in relation to events in Ukraine» dated 2 March 2014 and during the work of the group that performed the amnesty draft review, in a private capacity.
The conclusion of the Prosecutor about I.Kalyapin taking part in the work of the Council as the Committee Against Torture representative is drawn from the report to McArthur Foundation on execution of the grant agreement for the period 1 July 2013 – 31 December 2013, which conveyed that the Chairman of INGO «The Committee Against Torture» I.Kalyapin continued working in the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights. It remains unknown how this information led the Prosecutor to make a conclusion that I.Kalyapin participated in the Council in the capacity of the Committee Against Torture representative.
It should also be pointed out that the Prosecutor ignored the written statement of the Chairman of the Presidential Council M.Fedotov on I.Kalyapin’s working in the Presidential Council in a private capacity, provided in the course of the prosecutor’s investigation.
The second point concerns the amnesty. On the one hand, declaring amnesty is execution of the principle of humanism – one of the principles of our state policy. On the other hand, assuring the observance of prohibition of torture and principle of social justice are also important state policy principles. Therefore, following one of the directions of the state policy during actualization of the other one means implementation of the state policy, not its changing.
I.Kalyapin’s statement was aimed at execution of the other, apart from humanism, principle of the existing state policy. This view, by the way, was shared by the President of Russia, because the proposal, supported by I.Kalyapin, in the end was implemented.
10) Further on, the Prosecutor specifies that «according to the report to Sigrid Rausing Trust on execution of the grant agreement for the period 1 October 2012 – 1 August 2013, the Organization applied all the efforts in order to impel the state authorities of Russia to publish the reports of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, and in the end, Russia accepted instructions of the Committee Against Torture and in the beginning of 2013 published the last report».
Russia ratified the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1987) and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), it cooperates with the agencies, established by the abovementioned conventions, which is the current line of the state policy.
Recommendations to publish the reports were aimed at enhancing the existing cooperation, not at its changing. Cooperation with the European Committee will be more fruitful when these reports are published. Therefore, the Prosecutor did not provide grounds to prove these actions as changing the state policy.
11) The Prosecutor’s citation draws attention to the «public speech of the Chairman of the Organization, a member of the Presidential Council I.Kalyapin (according to caption under the video) published in the Internet international network with free access) with negative evaluation of the current state authority in relation to the Crimea joining the RF».
This fact, in the opinion of the Prosecutor, «also shall be regarded as the Organization representative taking part in the political activity, i.e. in public opinion shaping in order to change the state policy on the Crimea which is currently being executed».
In this interview I.Kalyapin expressed his personal civic position, not the position of the Organization, which means that this interview cannot be qualified as political activity.
The necessity of such differentiation was specified by the Constitutional Court of RF. As we have previously reported, in p.3.1 of Decree No.10-P dated 8 April 2014 the RF Constitutional Court stated that in order to include an organization in the List of non-commercial organizations performing the functions of foreign agents the objectives of influence on the state authorities taking decisions aiming at changing the current state policy shall be directly inherent to a non-commercial organization, but not to its individual members.
This fully relates to the public expression of personal view of a member of an organization on this or that issue of public life.
12) A separate claim of the Prosecutor’s Office relates to the Organization’s development of numerous analytical reports, applications on issues of law enforcement practice, submitted to different Russian state authorities.
Such actions are regarded by the Prosecutor as «exclusively aimed at shaping certain public opinion and influencing the authorities in order to impel them to take certain decisions and statutory and regulatory enactments».
Firstly, the objective indicated by the Prosecutor to «impel to take certain decisions and statutory and regulatory enactments» is not equivalent of the objective of «changing the current state policy», and only the second of the mentioned objectives is an attribute of political activity.
Secondly, publishing analytical reports, submitting applications on different issues of law enforcement practice and law-enforcement agencies activity is aimed at implementation of the current state policy, not at changing it.
13) Finally, it should be separately mentioned about the second mandatory attribute necessary for classifying a non-governmental organization as performing the functions of a foreign agent – foreign funding.
It is stated in the Prosecutor’s citation that «total sum of foreign funding of the Organization in 2010 – 2013 exceeded 163 mln. RUB (in 2010 – 39 336 000 RUB, in 2011 – 37 153 000 RUB, in 2012-42 451 000 RUB, in 2013 – 45 543 000 RUB)».
The Committee Against Torture never concealed the sources of its funding – in particular, information on scopes and sources of financing is in open access at the official web-site of the Organization.
However, it should be taken into consideration that in order to classify the non-governmental organization as performing the functions of a foreign agent, it is necessary to establish the fact of receiving the foreign funding since the amendments of the Federal law «On non-commercial organizations» took effect – i.e. since 21 November 2012.
Indication by the Prosecutor of the source of funding of the Committee Against Torture prior to this date does not have legal value for labeling the Organization with the abovementioned status.
Therefore, actually only the substitution of notions, performed in the very beginning of the citation, as well as wrong interpretation and application of the norm of the Federal law «On non-commercial organizations» allowed the Prosecutor finding grounds to include the Committee Against Torture in the List of organizations, performing the functions of foreign agents. In order to justify his position the Prosecutor, in fact, mentions the Organization’s activities aimed exclusively at supporting current state policy, not its changing.
The Prosecutor also manipulates the facts, in order to justify his view coming up with cases of the Committee Against Torture members’ public appearances in a private capacity as people having active civic stance, and to make it all look more impressive, quoting the sums of foreign funding received by the Organization before the amendments to the law on non-commercial organizations took effect.
In conclusion it should be separately mentioned that the substantive provisions of the Prosecutor’s Office citation dated 29 December 2014 are unlawful.
In accordance with Article 24 of the RF Federal law «On Prosecution Office of the Russian Federation» a citation shall contain the necessity of redressing the identified deficiencies. At the same time, in case of specification of the method of deficiencies and violations elimination all these methods shall be mentioned.
In the citation in question the Committee Against Torture is unconditionally demanded to submit an application on registering in the List. At the same time, based on provisions of the Federal law of the Russian Federation «On non-commercial organizations», as well as taking in consideration the RF Constitutional Court clarifications in the framework of this law about the status of NCO performing the functions of a foreign agent, public associations have a right to either refuse to receive foreign funding or cease the activity which is established as political or continue receiving such funding and be registered in the List.
In addition, the RF Constitutional Court specifically emphasized the constitutional right of the court appeal of the Prosecutor’s citation.
However, in the citation the Organization is suggested to execute only one of the options provided by the law.
Therefore, we cannot execute the citation in the abovementioned wording which contradicts the legislation.
Moreover, execution of the demand to send an application on registering the Organization in the List of non-commercial organizations performing the functions of foreign agents is meaningless, since on 16 January 2015 the Committee Against Torture was included by the Ministry of Justice of RF in the List of NCO performing the functions of foreign agents.
Therefore, we totally disagree with the arguments of the Prosecutor, provided in the citation, we consider them to be unsubstantiated, ungrounded and not corresponding to the norms of the Federal law «On non-commercial organizations».
The position of the Committee Against Torture did not convince the representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office and they refused to withdraw Nizhny Novgorod region Prosecutor’s citation. Now the Organization intends to appeal against this citation in court.