Target: Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov
Goal: End the targeting of nongovernmental organizations in Russia
The Russian government has recently targeted numerous human rights groups, demanding that they register as “foreign agents.” Most recently a group called Women of the Don in southern Russia was forced to use the label by local prosecutors. Gay rights organizations, accountability and social justice groups in particular have been targeted, and those refusing to register as foreign agents can have their activities suspended by court order. This is in clear violation of international human rights laws, and of the freedom of association and expression.
Russian law now dictates that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) receiving foreign funding and participating in political activism must register as foreign agents and identify as such in all publications. Russia’s Constitutional Court upheld the law in late April of this year. They asserted that the term was not negative but was in fact in the public interest and therefore could be applied to NGOs and other political activist groups.
The law and subsequent ruling by the Constitutional Court to uphold it are very disappointing and obvious violations of international law. Activists may have a better chance at a fair trial in the European Court, but there is no reason to believe that Russia will listen to any of the court’s findings. Urge the Russian government to halt all efforts to suppress the freedom of expression and association and drop the “foreign agent” tag from all organizations currently branded with it.
Dear Minister Konovalov,
Your government must do everything in its power to stop limiting the human rights of political activists in your country. The “foreign agent” designation currently applied to a number of NGOs is a violation of their freedom of expression and association. I ask that you immediately shelve the law until the European Court confirms its legality.
Several NGOs, including an elections monitoring group and an anti-discrimination group, are voluntarily ceasing operations to avoid further prosecution by the Russian government. It can only be assumed that this was the exact intention of the law: to silence those who would call into question the government or its outrageous laws targeting homosexuals.
By attempting to thwart the activities of social justice and gay rights organizations your government is in direct violation of numerous international human rights laws. This could lead to increased sanctions against Russia. I you to do the right thing for all of your citizens and end the use of the discriminatory “foreign agent” tag. Failing to do so calls into question your government’s true commitment to human rights.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Bogomolov.pl via Wikipedia Commons