European NGO that assisted the International &# 171; Memorial&# 187; and having no offices in Russia, has become&# 160; non-grata&# 160;
On March 12, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation included the registered in Belgium «European Endowment for Democracy» (European Endowment for Democracy) to the list of foreign and international non-governmental organizations whose activities are recognized as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation. The reason for this was the decision of the General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation made six days earlier..
On March 16, the Delegation of the European Union issued a statement by the press secretary of the European External Action Service, which states that this decision of the Russian authorities is unacceptable..
«European Endowment for Democracy — it is an organization professing high values and principles that are shared by the European Union, its member states and many other states of the world.
We urge the competent Russian authorities to reconsider this decision and to remove the European Endowment for Democracy from the list «undesirable organizations» … Democracy – it is a universal human value that includes respect for human rights enshrined in international law», – approved by the spokesman for the European External Action Service. And he recalls that the European Union has repeatedly condemned Russian laws on «undesirable organizations» and about «foreign agents», since they «contributes to the restriction of civil society, independent press and political opposition, as well as negatively affects the activities of civil society in Russia».
«Politically motivated paranoia»
Doctor of Law, Member of the Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights under the President of the Russian Federation from 2012 to 2019 Ilya Shablinsky believes that the initiative to persecute the European Endowment for Democracy belongs to the Federal Security Service, which considers this step as a kind of «pre-emptive strike».
In a commentary for the Russian Service «Voices of America» he noted that this Fund does not have targeted programs of work in Russia, and it has no structural divisions here. But he is active in countries «Eastern Partnership», which Russia considers as a zone of its exclusive influence.
Shablinsky also recalled that the suspension of activities «non-profit organizations that participate in political activities carried out on the territory of the Russian Federation and receive free funds and other property from citizens (organizations) of the United States of America or implement projects, programs or other activities in the Russian Federation that pose a threat to the interests of the Russian Federation Federation» was spelled out in article 3 of the infamous «Dima Yakovlev's law». Later, this provision was extended to organizations established in EU countries..
«The FSB is constantly working hard to control what could trigger massive protests in Russia. But my deep conviction is that mass protests are ripening in the minds of people, and no funds or non-profit organizations to those demonstrations that took place in Russia last year, or even earlier, in 2011 – 2012 – have nothing to do.
The feeling of protest arises among the masses of people almost simultaneously. These people are annoyed (by the actions of the authorities), but they do not know about any funds or non-profit organizations», – thinks Ilya Shablinsky.
Interlocutor «Voices of America» recalled that he himself took part in a mass demonstration in Moscow in early December 2011 after the announcement of the results of the elections to the State Duma. «I believed that these elections ended in total falsification and total forgery. And so it was, and millions of people knew it. We went to a demonstration, and then it turned out that our president decided to put pressure on all the NGOs, because he saw them as the main culprits. From my point of view, it is – paranoia, but politically motivated. They just think that someone should finance the protests.», – the expert explains the logic of the actions of the Russian authorities.
«I am very sorry about what happened and I consider it unfair.»
Several years ago, International Memorial approached the European Endowment for Democracy with a request to help in the implementation of some projects. About this to the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America» told the executive director of the International Memorial Elena Zhemkova, noting: «They responded very promptly to our request, entered our situation and supported the work of the International Memorial in public discussion and, in general, in our educational work of various kinds.».
Zhemkova recalled that the Brussels-based foundation was not the first organization to provide support «Memorial» and included in the list of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation. «Among the first, we must, of course, name the Soros Foundation. I have always said and continue to say that the work of the Soros Foundation in Russia was very worthy, very useful. And it's not just about supporting him “Memorial”, although back in the 90s a very good catalog of our museum collection was published, and since then, unfortunately, has not been republished due to our lack of funds. Thanks to this catalog, our collection of camp-made paintings and drawings has become widely known. Thanks to this catalog, our exhibits participate in many exhibitions. And this – just one example.
It should also be noted that the Soros Foundation had programs to support Russian scientists, to support the publication of books and the maintenance of libraries. And I think that the inclusion of such organizations in the list of undesirable organizations is very unfair. The same applies to the European Endowment for Democracy. Although our cooperation with them was episodic, and we received help from them once, it was a very dignified attitude, funding was absolutely transparent, which is very important for us. And I, as an executive director “Memorial” I'm very sorry about what happened and I think it's unfair», – emphasized Elena Zhemkova.
The European Endowment for Democracy, Driving Democracy Together
International Memorial is included in the register of organizations, «acting as a foreign agent». Power structures impose huge fines on him, but «Memorial» does not even consider the possibility of termination of their activities. «we – an organization that certainly does useful work for people. And this is confirmed, in particular, by the fact that more than four thousand people who made donations responded to our request to help us. Moreover, the average check of these donations was in the region from eight hundred to one thousand rubles. And this means that the main support was just from ordinary people..
So we are sure that our work is needed, it is very worthy and useful. A lot of people come to us who thank us for our work. Therefore, we will continue our activities as long as we can.», – concludes the Executive Director of the International Memorial Elena Zhemkova.
Currently the list «undesirable organizations» includes twenty foundations, institutions and NGOs. Opens the list «National Endowment for Democracy» (The National Endowment for Democracy). It is followed by the Institute «Open society – Foundation Assistance», followed by organizations from the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Romania, Lithuania and a number of international structures.