Russian Court Liquidates Human Rights Group in Heated Crackdown
Feb 23, 2016 06:14 AM EST
Agora is the latest human rights group to be shut down by the Russian government. The Tatarstan Regional Supreme Court ruled over to liquidate the human rights group for allegedly involving in political activity influencing public opinion. Agora will appeal to Russia's Supreme Court over the decision.
Just 24 hours after the ruling, the justice ministry has again called for liquidation of another human rights group, Golos. The Russian government is among the nations to continually crackdown on independent civil society. Agora is a network of lawyers and activists, recognized for defending civil and political activists across Russia. It is the human rights group that represented high-profile court cases such as Ukrainian filmmaker from Crimea, Oleg Sentsov, and his alleged accessory, the Crimean activist Olexander Kolchenko; Alexei Navalny; and the feminist punk group, Pussy Riot, HRW. Org reports.
"I'm proud we were the first ones because there's public awareness of what is going on," Pavel Chikov, former head of Agora Human Rights Association said over Skype from Russia. "If we talk about the substantial work of our team of lawyers, this court decision does not influence or impact at all, but it doesn't undermine the overall importance of that court decision; it sets a very dangerous precedent. When we talk about any leading human rights NGOs in Russia, there is no feeling comfortable or secure currently."
Chikov said that their group composed of about 30 lawyers has been working on over 300 cases in Russia and they will continue to do their job even they were no longer organized as a group. The Tatarstan court decision was denounced by international factions, including the Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch, according to The Washington Post. This way, the group claimed that decentralization would make it more difficult for the authorities to track them.
"We will find a legal way how to continue our work, it can be a commercial organization, it can be an association of people without registering any kind of legal entity, that is actually allowed for by the Russian constitution and civil code. There are legal ways," said Olga Sadovskaya, a human rights lawyer and the deputy chairperson of the Committee Against Torture, International Business Times claims. "There are other options at the moment and we will be using them."
At the moment Russia and other nations, including India, China, Uganda, Egypt, and Cambodia are the nations that are experiencing the biggest crackdown in human rights group. Chikov claimed that he and other lawyers will continue to work to achieve the change they want.