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News29 July 2015, 08:20
Юрий Гурман
Член Совета движения «Голос»

Yuriy Gurman – Chairman of the Foundation ‘GOLOS-Ural’, director of the Association of municipalities and towns of the Chelyabinsk region, co-chairman of the ‘Golos’ movement board.

July 27, 2015

We found out from the media that the Ministry of Justice issued a press release stating that ‘GOLOS-Ural’ is registered as a ‘foreign agent’.

We believe entering the IPF ‘GOLOS-Ural’ into the register of ‘foreign agents’ is illegitimate and it implies deliberate pressure on the organization engaged in independent public election observation.

We represent the citizens of the Russian Federation. In our work, we are always guided by the interests of Russian citizens, we have always strictly adhered to the constitutional principles. Fair, free elections, adherence to the rights of voters are among the most important social values ​​of our country and its free citizens.

Under the Constitution, human rights and freedoms as well as the citizen rights shall be on the top of State agenda. In particular it should be the cornerstone of public authorities’ activities, the basis for the content and application of law, enforced by judiciary institutions.

We feel the full power of administrative pressure, turning into a real persecution and harassment. Surveillance, denunciations, false accusations, slander, our organization activities being scrutinized at the meetings of surveillance and supervisory authorities - all this is initiated not with the intention to investigate the fraud we have identified during the elections, but rather to cover these violations and to scrutinize the environment that would unbearable for our organization remaining active. More often we hear from our colleagues and partners that officials at various levels release bans not only on co-operation, but even keeping contacts with our organization. The organization was labelled as ‘foreign agent’ on purpose, that was strongly hammered into the mind of not only an everyman, but it also affects the relations with the official bodies.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the recognition of an organization ‘acting as a foreign agent’ does not imply a negative connotation and it shall not in any way restrict the rights of organizations and citizens who have joined these organizations. However, in November last year, the amendments to the Federal Law were passed restricting the representatives of organizations-‘foreign agents’ to observe elections.

What are the criminal charges against IPF ‘GOLOS-Ural’?

‘Golos’ - an association established by citizens concerned about the future of their country and, above all, the current national electoral system. Besides, the stability and development of social relations in the state in particular depends on the answer to the question whether the official election results actually reflect the will of voters, whether it is not distorted by the use of ‘black’ technologies, pressure and administrative resources. The stability of state institutions and the adherence to citizens’ rights and interests depends on all this.

‘Golos’ was established in 2000. It does not constitute one legal entity. It incorporates different associations, the ones that obtain the status of an independent legal entity as well as the ones operating solely as a public initiative. For example, in the Chelyabinsk region for a long time the activities were carried out in the framework of a regional non-profit partnership ‘Golos’, which under the motto ‘Fairness! Openness! Justice!’ joined together about 30 different public organizations - from the association of municipalities and independent trade unions to the organizations bringing together parents of disabled children. All of these organizations seek for one thing - fair elections, open government (open budgets), fair judicial system. Only in 2007, an informal partnership, which operated in the region lacking the status of a legal entity that was joined by the colleagues from other regions developed into the Interregional Public Foundation for Civil Society Development ‘GOLOS-Ural’. All these years we have never concealed that ‘Golos’ projects were implemented with the support of grants and donations received from the foundations and charitable organizations from around the world. Furthermore, the external funding was a kind of safeguard of the impartiality of election observation carried out by our organization.

Meanwhile, IPF ‘GOLOS-Ural’, as an independent legal entity, has never received any money from any foreign organization. Moreover, from 2010 to 2013, the IPF ‘GOLOS-Ural’ has been actively engaged in partnership with various NGOs in implementation of projects that received the Presidential grants. Besides, in 2013 and 2014 the NGO itself received two Presidential grants of 7 000 000 and 5 000 000 rubles.

Moreover, when the Law on ‘Foreign Agents’ was passed, ‘Golos’ decided to refuse any kind of foreign funding, despite the fact that we believed that the law itself violated the Constitution. Since 21 November 2012 (the date of entry into force of the Law ‘On Foreign Agents’) no money was transferred to the accounts of our organization from foreign sources or from Russian organizations receiving such assets. Nevertheless, the Department of Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation in Chelyabinsk region imputed that IPF ‘Golos-Ural’ had received foreign funds after the law came into force.

The Law ‘On foreign Agents’ defines foreign agents as ‘non-commercial organizations that receive funds and other assets from foreign states, their government bodies, international and foreign organizations, foreign citizens, stateless persons or persons authorized by them and/or Russian legal entities receiving funding and other property from said sources except for open joint-stock companies with state ownership and their subsidiaries) (hereinafter - foreign sources), and which is involved in the political activities carried out in the territory of the Russian Federation in the interests of foreign sources’.

The key determinant in this case is the date when the funds were received. If you received such funds you are perceived as an agent. Despite the fact that the Constitution of the Russian Federation established that the retroactive law application is impermissible and the fact that the laws adopted cannot deteriorate and diminish the established rights and freedoms (Article 54 and the paragraph 2 of Article 55 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation), the Ministry of Justice claims that the funds that IPF ‘GOLOS-Ural’ has received from the Russian organization which, in turn, received funds from a foreign legal entity and did not spent it before the entry into force of the law ‘On Foreign Agents’ is recognized as foreign funds received after the law entered into force.

In addition, our organization is charged with receiving ‘foreign funds’ as in July 2014, Y.A. Gurman (as a natural person), together with his daughter and colleagues engaged in human rights advocacy from various regions for the occasion of his birthday on his own expense left for Saint Petersburg, where he stayed in a hotel, paid through a travel agency using foreign - Lithuanian - payment system.

The situation seems to be even more absurd, as already in August 2014, the trip invoked accusations published by the newspaper ‘Izvestia’ that allegedly ‘Golos’ was ‘captured receiving foreign funding’. Our organization submitted a request for an unscheduled search of the IPF ‘GOLOS-Ural’ to the Prosecutor’s Office of Chelyabinsk region and the Department of Ministry of Justice in Chelyabinsk region in order to determine whether a fact on receiving foreign funds is established or to deny such fact. Then, we were denied such a check-up, though the law obliges to do carry it out. And now, a year later, on the eve of a single voting day, the Ministry of Justice, together with the Centre Combating Extremism under the Interior Ministry of Russia in the Chelyabinsk region, carried out the unscheduled inspection and under absolutely frivolous and unlawful grounds IPF ‘GOLOS-Ural’ was recognized as ‘foreign agent’ .

IPF ‘GOLOS-Ural’ is an association joining together the citizens of Russia, who passionately love and respect their country and moreover believe fair elections and adherence to the Constitution are possible in the country.

We believe entering the IPF ‘GOLOS-Ural’ into the register of ‘foreign agents’ is illegitimate, purposefully imposed pressure on the organization for many years engaged in independent public election observation.

Юрий Гурман: другие материалы автора
OpinionPunishment4 years ago
И поэтому прекратил дело о незаконной агитации, которую она вела