The Supreme Court of Russia dismissed the appeal of the Society of Russian-Chechen Friendship (SRCF), lodged against the judgement of theNizhny Novgorod Regional Courtto liquidate this non-governmental organization. The Supreme court supported the judgement to liquidate the public organization. The appellee’s interests in the Court were advocated by Anna Stavitskaya from the Public Verdict Foundation.
You may remember, that theNizhny Novgorod Regional Courtruled to liquidate the Society of Russian-Chechen Friendship in October 2006, on the demand of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Prosecutor’s Office. The Court ruled that SRCF had seriously and repeatedly violated federal legislation and that the above mentioned public organization was “extremism oriented”.
Appealing to the Supreme Court, activists of SRCF required to dismiss the ruling of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court and to remand the case for another consideration.
The decision of theNizhny Novgorod Regional Courtwas based on a prior conviction of the leader of the organization. In February 2006 head of the Society Stanislav Dmitrievsky was sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment on probation for “stimulation of hostility, disparagement of certain groups of people by racial and social characteristics, committed with use of the media and misuse of authority” (art. 282, part 2 of the RF Criminal Code). In the “Pravo-Zaschita” newspaper Mr. Dmitrievsky published a manifest of the Chechen separatists’ leaders, where they had appealed to peaceful negotiations and cease of armed conflict in Chechnya and criticized Russian authorities for their actions in the Caucasus.
The day before, a number of Russian and international publicly known figures had spoken in support of the Society of Russian-Chechen Friendship. They had said that the decision to liquidate the Society had been a political one and an example of arbitrary and selective application of the new law on extremism against those who criticized the authorities. “Freedom of speech, freedom of associations include the right to freely criticize the authorities. Democracy is based on the people’s right to influence the state of affairs of their country in a peaceful way. These are basic principles which form our Constitution. The Russian authorities again failed to adhere to the Constitution”, said the human rights activists in their statement.