Cablegate: Russia: Bureaucratic Error Snags Human Rights Ngo
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #3991 2270831
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 150831Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2929
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 4391
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2343
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2642
UNCLAS MOSCOW 003991
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA: BUREAUCRATIC ERROR SNAGS HUMAN RIGHTS NGO
REF: A. MOSCOW 695 (NOTAL)
B. MOSCOW 1839 (NOTAL)
1. (SBU) Summary: The NGO "International Youth Human Rights
Movement" (YHRM) learned last week that it had been
deregistered by a Nizhny Novgorod court in June. YHRM has
appealed the deregistration which, according to Human Rights
Watch, was apparently the result of compounded bureaucratic
errors, rather than government targeting of this human rights
NGO. YHRM is able to continue operating pending an appeal.
Deregistration and Appeal
2. (U) Prior to 2004, YHRM had been registered locally in
Nizhny Novgorod, according to its president Andrey Yurov.
Starting in 2004, YHRM registered as an international NGO
with the central Federal Registration Service (FRS) as
required by law of all international NGOs. At this time,
even though YHRM was now based in Voronezh and registered in
Moscow, it was not removed from the Nizhny Novgorod list.
According to Yurov, the YHRM currently files all required
annual reports with the central FRS.
3. (U) During the spring of 2007, the Nizhny Novgorod branch
of the Federal Registration Service (FRS), following a
request from FRS headquarters to remove defunct NGOs from the
registration rolls, sent letters to all NGOs on the local
list who had not filed reports within the prior 12 months.
The letters notified the NGOs that their registration would
be revoked and their organizations dissolved unless they kept
their NGO active by filing the required annual reports. The
Nizhny Novgorod FRS had an incorrect address for YHRM, and
therefore the warning letter was not received. The Nizhny
Novgorod court in June noted in its decision that YHRM had
not responded to the FRS letter and had failed to respond to
the court hearing notice (also sent to the same incorrect
address) and declared the group dissolved.
4. (U) On August 9, YHRM filed an appeal with this district
court on the grounds that neither the FRS nor the court had
properly notified them of the pending actions, as required by
law. YHRM attorney Olga Gnezdilova told us that, following a
successful appeal, YHRM will then contest the original FRS
allegations with evidence that YHRM has filed annual reports
with the Moscow FRS for the last four years. YHRM has
requested that the district court rule on the appeal within
10 days (a limit also specified in the law). Complete text
of the district court decision and the YHRM appeal may be
found at www.defence.yhrm.org. If the district court denies
the appeal, Yurov said that he plans to appeal to the oblast
court, supreme court, and European Court of Human Rights as
needed. In the meantime, the deregistration decision has not
taken effect, and YHRM is able to operate freely.
A Mistake, not Malice
5. (SBU) Inara Golpe-Langenushka of Human Rights Watch told
us that they had been following the case closely, but were
convinced that this was a bureaucratic error, not an attack
on human rights groups. The Nizhny Novgorod branch of the
FRS had tried to comply with the requirements to remove
defunct NGOs from the registry and simply had the wrong
6. (SBU) Poloff met with Gnezdilova and YHRM President Andrey
Yurov during a August 6-8 trip to Voronezh. Gnezdilova and
Yurov complained about the red tape that NGOs face trying to
comply with the 2006 NGO law (Refs A and B). "Even small
NGOs require one or two staff members just to comply with the
federal regulations," said Yurov.
7. (SBU) Comment: The fact that YHRM is being allowed to
continue to operate pending an appeal suggests that this
indeed does appear to be a case of bureaucratic error.
Nonetheless, this case merits close attention, and we will
track the progress of Yarov's appeal and subsequent actions
by the Nizhny Novgorod FRS.