Civil Rights Defenders’ Partner Rakurs Registered as a Foreign Agent
The Russian Ministry of Justice entered Civil Rights Defenders’ long-term partner ’Rakurs’ into the register of ’foreign agents’ on 15 December this year. Rakurs is the first LGBT organisation to be targeted in this manner and further demonstrate how state authorities continues to tighten the noose around the necks of human rights organisations in Russia.
Under the law adopted in 2012, all NGO’s who receive foreign funding and conducts any ”political activity” is required to register their organisation and publicly identify themselves as a “foreign agent” – a term that is widely interpreted in Russia to mean spy or traitor. In June 2013, the Ministry of Justice was granted the power to register organisations as foreign agents without their consent or initial recourse through the Court system.
“Registering ‘Rakurs’ as a foreign agent is yet another sinister step when it comes to the relentless oppression of civil society in Russia. Rakurs core mission is to protect the rights of LGBT people and therefore should immediately be removed from the registry. We will continue to support “Rakurs” in every way possible,” said Roemer Lemaitre, Programme Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Civil Rights Defenders.
After a scheduled inspection the Ministry of Justice came to the decision that ’Rakurs’ should be registered as a foreign agent. The Director of ’Rakurs’ Tatiana Vinnichenko is adamant that their organisation is not engaged in any political activities and the Ministry’s report contains fictional, unreliable and corrupt facts.
“Authorities constantly increase pressure on the LGBT community and violate their rights, despite the repeated assurances from Vladimir Putin that LGBT people are not discriminated against in Russia. Regional organisations like Rakurs in Russia already face a difficult task in carrying out their daily activities and authorities are making it even harder. We will appeal this unlawful decision and ’Rakurs’ is thankful for all the support provided by international organisations,” said Tatiana Vinnichenko, Director of Rakurs.
Rakurs provides social, psychological and legal aid to LGBT people and it is not the first time that the authorities have attempted to impede the work of the organisation. Earlier this year activists who supported Rakurs were threatened with being fired from their positions at the University and some have even been forced out of their positions with spurious reason given for terminating their employment.
Harassment against LGBT people and activists has massively increased in Russia since the adoption of archaic legislation banning propaganda of homosexuality and non-traditional sexual relations amongst minors.