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Defending Civil Rights in Today’s Russia: An evening with Grigory Melkonyants and Valentina Cherevatenko

posted 21 Sep 2016, 06:37 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 23 Sep 2016, 03:03 ]

Rights in Russia is delighted to announce in partnership with the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum an event in London on Tuesday, 4th October 2016, at which two of Russia’s leading civil society activists will speak: Valentina Cherevatenko, chair of Women of the Don, a human rights NGO based in Novocherkassk, Rostov region; and Grigory Melkonyants, co-chair of the independent election monitor Golos, based in Moscow.

The event will be held at the Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA, on Tuesday, 4 October 2016, 6:30pm- 8pm. There will be an informal reception after the event from 8pm – 9pm. To book places, please visit The Free Word Centre. For more information, you are welcome to e-mail This event is free of charge. However, there will be an opportunity to make a donation to the organizers to help cover the costs of the event.

GRIGORY MELKONYANTS is co-chair of Russia’s preeminent independent election monitor Golos, the Movement for the Defence of Voters’ Rights. Golos was originally founded in 2000. Since 2005 Golos has been a member of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO). Together with leading Russian experts in 2008- 2010 Golos worked on creating an Electoral Code. In 2012 Golos was awarded the Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. In 2013 the Ministry of Justice designated Golos as a ‘foreign agent’ on the grounds that it had received foreign funding (this was a reference to the 7,700 EUR Sakharov Prize – despite the fact that Golos had declined to accept the money) and that in creating the Electoral Code the organization had engaged in ‘political activities’. In 2013, Golos re-established itself as a ‘Movement’, bringing together all those who engaged in independent election monitoring in Russia since 2000. More recently, in 2014 and 2015, Golos has received two grants of state-funding – the so-called ‘Presidential Grants’ - for its work on election monitoring. 

VALENTINA CHEREVATENKO is the chair of the “Women of the Don” Union and of the “Women of the Don” Foundation for Civil Society Development, two NGOs based in Novocherkassk in the Rostov Region (South Russia). The “Women of the Don” Union, originally established in 1993, has worked for more than twenty years in different areas of human rights, with a special emphasis on the rights of women: in particular, it has focused on gender discrimination, violence against women, and peace-building initiatives in the North Caucasus region. “Women of the Don” also provides free legal advice to the public, promotes dialogue and tolerance, and has worked to improve relations between the police and members of society. The Justice Ministry designated both “Women of the Don” Union (in 2014) and the “Women of the Don” Foundation (in 2015) as ‘foreign agent’ NGOs. In February 2016 the Ministry of Justice officially removed the “Women of the Don” Union from its list of foreign agents. In June 2016, however, Valentina Cherevatenko became the first individual to face criminal prosecution under the ‘foreign agent’ law for the alleged ‘malicious evasion of duties imposed by the law on non-profit organisations performing the functions of a foreign agent,’ a move condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Frontline Defenders and other human rights organizations.

"Defending Media Rights in Russia Today" - a conversation with Galina Arapova on 23 June 2016 at Pushkin House

posted 9 Jun 2016, 10:12 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 19 Jun 2016, 12:21 ]

Article 19
 and Rights in Russia are delighted to announce a talk by Galina Arapova, one of Russia’s leading media rights lawyers.

The event will be held at Pushkin House, 5a Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1A 2TA, on Thursday 23 June 2016, starting at 6:30pm. 

Galina Arapova, who lives in Voronezh, Russia, is director and senior media lawyer at the NGO Mass Media Defence Centre (MMDC). The Centre was established in 1995 to protect the rights of journalists and media outlets and promote freedom of expression standards in Russia. Under Galina’s leadership, it has become one of a small number of regionally-based human rights groups to have a nationwide impact, defending cases and advising lawyers from Siberia to Dagestan.

A practising media lawyer, Galina has strong experience in defending media in defamation and privacy cases and other media related issues. She has taken a number of cases regarding violation of Article 10 (“Freedom of Expression”) of the European Convention to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. She is a member of the International Media Lawyers Association, and a member of Voronezh City Public Chamber.

More recently Galina and the MMDC have been forced to defend their right to defend others. The Mass Media Defence Centre was investigated under the new law concerning “Foreign Agents” and in February 2015 was declared a “foreign agent”. In October last year MMDC was fined 300,000 roubles for refusing to join the Register of Foreign Agents. The battle in the courts is ongoing.

Galina is a trustee of Article 19 and a member of the advisory council of Rights in Russia. The Mass Media Defence Centre is also a partner of the London-based Media Legal Defence Initiative.

There will be an informal reception after the event.

The event will be under the Chatham House rule. To confirm your attendance, please e-mail, or on our Facebook page: Defending Media Rights in Russia Today

This event is free of charge. However, donations to the organizers will be welcome.

The BEARR Trust 25th Anniversary Lecture – 7 June 2016

posted 2 Jun 2016, 02:11 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Jun 2016, 02:23 ]

On 7 June 2016 the BEARR trust 25th Anniversary Lecture will feature Professor Bill Bowring speaking on “25 years on: the Rule of Law in Russia and the republics”

From the BEARR Trust website

The BEARR Trust is marking its 25th Anniversary by looking at key developments in our region over that period, and prospects for the future. This year’s Annual Lecture, kindly hosted once again by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), One Exchange Square, London EC2A 2JN, will be at 6pm on 7 June 2016.

Professor Bill Bowring is a leading expert on our region, teaches international law and human rights at Birkbeck College, London, and is a practising barrister. His latest book is Law, Rights and Ideology in Russia: Landmarks in the Destiny of a Great Power (Routledge 2013), of which copies will be available at the lecture. (For more about Professor Bowring, see below.)

The event will be under the Chatham House rule. The lecture will be followed by a reception, which will allow for further discussion and networking with others with an interest in the field.

The BEARR Trust is a UK-based organisation set up to help children and other vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the South Caucasus. We believe the best way to do this is to help small NGOs in the region to build knowledge, know-how, skills and contacts including with those doing similar work in the UK.

The lecture is free, and all are welcome. However, this is The BEARR Trust’s main fund-raising event of the year, and guests are invited to make an advance donation of £25 per person. All proceeds will go towards BEARR’s work to support health and welfare and to strengthen civil society through our Small Grants Scheme.

All names must be given in advance for security reasons, so please fill in the booking form below and return it as soon as possible, and at the latest by 1 June. For Booking form click here.

LSE event: Defending Human Rights in Russia

posted 5 Jan 2015, 08:16 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Jan 2015, 08:23 ]

Date of original post: 16 December 2014

Source: LSE

When: Wednesday 21 January 2015, 6.30-8pm
Speakers: Sergei A. Golubok, Dmitri Makarov, Roman Udot
Respondent: Dr Mary McAuley
Chair: Professor Margot Light

Twitter hashtag: #LSERussia

Background: An unprecedented number of laws have been adopted in Russia over the past two years which dramatically restrict the activities of all independent non-governmental organisations, and particularly those working for civil and political rights. The new laws, such as the "foreign agents" law, threaten not only the organisations but also endanger their staff, members and supporters. The law on treason can lead to ten or more years of imprisonment for the vaguest of reasons, such as simply sharing information with non-Russian organisations and outsiders.

The event: Our panel of human rights advocates and experts will provide a first-hand insight into the difficulties of working under such conditions, and propose what can be done to stop the further erosion of human rights in Russia.

The event is free to attend and open to all, with no ticket or pre-registration required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis.

Speak Up! - Demonstration in London on 30 December

posted 29 Dec 2014, 08:35 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 29 Dec 2014, 12:52 ]

Demonstration in London on 30 December to protest against politically motivated prosecutions in Russia

Where: Outside the Russian Embassy in London - Kensington Palace Gardens, 13, W8 4QX London, United Kingdom

When: Begins at 10 am, and then later at 6 pm

Source: Speak Up! on Facebook

Organizer: Speak Up!

Work at MLDI - Case and Project Support Officer

posted 16 Dec 2014, 12:15 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Dec 2014, 12:20 ]

15 December 2014

Source: Media Legal Defence Initiative

The Media Legal Defence Initiative is looking for a Case and Project Support Officer to strengthen its team. This is an exciting opportunity to join a growing and dynamic organisation that is recognised as a leader in the legal defence of journalists worldwide.

Based in London, MLDI works through a worldwide network of partner organisations and individual lawyers to provide legal support for the defence of legal cases against independent media, bloggers and journalists. Currently, MLDI has litigation pending in over 40 countries as well as before various international courts and tribunals. In addition, MLDI works to build legal capacity for the defence of media in countries where this is most needed.

The Case and Project Support Officer will be responsible for providing day-to-day support for the litigation work carried out by MLDI and assist in the administration of legal defence projects run by MLDI and its partner organisations. In addition, the Case and Project Support Officer will assist with legal research and administrative tasks related to MLDI’s work.

The successful candidate will be highly motivated and excited by the opportunity to be part of a young organisation and to help bolster its reputation in the field. He or she will be able to work in a very fast-paced environment in which they will be expected to produce high-quality output at a consistent rate on a variety of issues. Familiarity with the geographic regions in which MLDI works is a plus, and good working knowledge (spoken and written) of French or Russian would be a significant advantage.

For a full job description and person specification, please click here.

Applicants should send a CV, writing sample and covering letter, including two references, to, quoting “MLDI – CSO” in the subject line. Closing date: 31 January 2015. Interviews will be held during the week of 9 February 2015. Only candidates short-listed for interview will be contacted. Please note that candidates need to have a right to work in the UK.

Joint NGO Letter on Freedom of Association in Russia (Amnesty International)

posted 31 Oct 2014, 03:37 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 31 Oct 2014, 03:53 ]

31 October 2014

Amnesty International invites other NGOs to sign this open letter to the President of the Russian Federation, urging an end to the clampdown on the right to freedom of association and end reprisals against independent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia. The letter was originally published on 9 October 2014. Rights in Russia has added its name to this letter.

Please contact before 17 November 2014 if you wish to add your organization's signature.

The letter reads: 

Dear President,

We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations, are writing to urge you to stop the clampdown on the right to freedom of association and end reprisals against independent non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia.

We are deeply concerned that under the legislation on “foreign agents”, hundreds of NGOs have been subjected to unannounced inspections by government officials which have interrupted and obstructed their legitimate work with dozens currently embroiled in lengthy court hearings. Several NGOs and their leaders have had to pay prohibitive fines, and some were forced to close down because they refused to brand themselves as “foreign agents” – an expression akin to spying. Recent legislative changes now give the Ministry of Justice powers to register organizations as “foreign agents” without their consent and without a prior court decision. More than a dozen of leading Russian rights groups have already been branded by the Ministry. These NGOs are not foreign spies or “agents”, and have worked in the interest of the people of Russia. Many more face the same fate.

Under the previous legislation, NGOs in Russia were already accountable to the government and the public, having to report on their activities and finances. It is difficult to avoid concluding that the only purpose of the legislation on “foreign agents” is to publicly discredit and stigmatise them.

We believe that NGOs are essential to the healthy functioning of society. They play an important role in providing much needed services to the public. They help keep officials accountable and improve policies in the interests of the people.

We are calling on you as the President of the Russian Federation and the guarantor of its Constitution and of the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined therein, to take all necessary steps to ensure that the “foreign agents” law is repealed and NGOs in Russia are able to do their work without hindrance, harassment, stigmatisation or reprisals.

For a list of signatories, see HERE

Stop the war against Ukraine! For peace and human rights in Europe!

posted 20 Sep 2014, 03:24 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Sep 2014, 03:29 ]

15 September 2014

Call to protest on 20 September 2014 at 11.30 a.m. in front of the Russian Embassy Unter den Linden 63 – 65, 10117 Berlin [1] 

For the text in German, see HERE

Twenty-five years after German Reunification, an event that in many ways made the creation of a “Common European Home” possible, we face a very real threat - everything we have worked for in the last quarter of a century could disappear. In Russia, Ukraine and Germany, and with the help of people in many other countries, we have worked together towards a peaceful resolution of the East-West confrontation. Through practical civil society collaboration extending across borders, we have advocated the values of the European Convention on Human Rights. Our aim is permanent peace in Europe, realized by the citizens living in this continent.

It is with great outrage that we acknowledge that, in recent weeks and months, the government of the Russian Federation has been trying to destroy the foundations of the “European Home”. Following the annexation of the Crimea – in direct violation of international law – the Russian government is supporting leaders in East Ukraine who are dependent on Russia, and who have perpetrated major assaults on the civilian population. Russia is waging war in Ukraine! In the middle of Europe, civilians – regardless of their views on the current leadership in Kiev – are being forced to suffer the consequences of a war conflict that is leading to violations of human rights on all sides.

This outward aggression is accompanied by on-going internal repression. For years, the Russian authorities have been engaging in a campaign against the civil society in their own country. Examples of this include increasingly severe restrictions on the right to protest and the denouncement of independent NGOs as “foreign agents”, as well as arbitrary criminal prosecution and the imprisonment of individuals. With ever-newer measures, the Russian authorities attempt to destroy the foundations of international collaboration “from below”.

All these reasons make us demand of the Russian authorities: Stop. Stop breaking the international commitments and honour the territorial integrity of Ukraine! Stop characterising external powers and internal organisations as enemies and help protect the opportunities that the end of the Cold War brought us all!

We call on the European governments to defend the goal of a “European Home”, which would be obliterated by the long-term return of a military approach to politics. Stand up for the integrity of all European countries and the European Convention on Human Rights! Whoever is not prepared to stand up against this attack on the European framework of peace and protect the independence of Ukraine will undermine the basis of our “Common European Home”.

We shall continue with our collaborative work towards a peaceful, democratic Europe. Along with our Russian civil society colleagues, who are preparing a demonstration in Moscow on 21 September 2014, here in Berlin we will show our solidarity with the people of Ukraine and those fighting for democracy and human rights in Russia. Use your participation to send a strong message!


Thomas Ammer, Euskirchen; Vera Ammer, Initiative Demokratische Ukraine, Köln; Juri Andruchowytsch, Autor, Berlin, Nikolaus Becker, Fotograf, Berlin; Lukas Beckmann, Vorstand der GLS Treuhand e.V., Berlin; Jutta Begenau, Medizinsoziologin, Berlin; Yevgenia Belorusets, Autorin/Fotografin, Berlin/Kiew; Oleksandra Bienert, PRAVO, Berlin Group for Human Rights in Ukraine, Berlin; René Böll, Maler und Grafiker, Köln; Martin Böttger, Martin-Luther-King-Zentrum, Werdau; Tim Bohse, Deutsch-Russischer Austausch, Berlin; Marit Cremer, MEMORIAL Deutschland, Berlin; György Dalos, Schriftsteller, Berlin; Andreas Decker, MEMORIAL Deutschland e.V., München; Marat Dickermann, Kammermusiker, Frankfurt am Main; Christian Dietrich, Thüringer Landesbeauftragter für die Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur, Erfurt; Frank Ebert, Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft e.V., Berlin; Wolfgang Eichwede, Historiker, Berlin/Bremen; Sabine Erdmann-Kutnevic, MEMORIAL Deutschland e.V., Berlin; Alexander Formozov, iDecembrists e.V., Berlin; Peter Franck, Amnesty International, Sektion der Bundesrepublik Deutschland e.V., Berlin; Kathrin Franke, Solidarität mit der Bürgergesellschaft in Russland e.V., Berlin; Karl Wilhelm Fricke, Publizist, Köln; Ralf Fücks, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Berlin/Bremen; Swetlana Gannuschkina, Civic Assistance Committee, Moskau; Olga Gogoleva, Studentin, Berlin; Evghenie Golovaniuc, Köln; Gerold Hildebrand, Sozialwissenschaftler, Berlin; Wladimir Kaminer, Schriftsteller, Berlin; Kurt-Christoph v. Knobelsdorff, MinDir, Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit, Verkehr und Technologie d. Landes Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel/Berlin; Christiane Körner, Literaturübersetzerin, Frankfurt am Main; Aleksei Kozlov,, Woronesch/Berlin; Sergej Kowaljow, MEMORIAL, Moskau; Olaf Kühl, Schriftsteller und Übersetzer, Berlin; Tetiana Lopashchuk, Dachverband der ukrainischen Organisationen in Deutschland, Kiew/Berlin; Christian Lübke, Geisteswiss. Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas e.V., Leipzig; Ekkehard Maaß, Publizist, Vorsitzender der Deutsch-Kaukasischen Gesellschaft, Berlin; Markus Meckel, Stiftung für deutsch-polnische Zusammenarbeit, Außenminister a.D., Berlin; Stefan Melle, Deutsch-Russischer Austausch e.V., Berlin; Edith Müller, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Berlin; Karl-Ernst Müller, Partnerschaft zur Ukraine e.V.; Barbara von Ow-Freytag, EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Berlin, Kateryna Petrovska, Schriftstellerin, Berlin; Andrij Portnow,, Berlin, Eva Quistorp, MdEP a.D.,Frauen für Frieden, Berlin; Edgar von Radetzky, Facharzt, MEMORIAL Deutschland e.V., Berlin; Waleria Radziejowska-Hahn, Köln; Sarah Reinke, Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker, e.V., Berlin; Axel Reitel, Autor, Berlin; Michail Ryklin, Philosoph, Berlin; Manfred Sapper, Zeitschrift „osteuropa“, Berlin; Natalja Schapeler, Euromaidan Wache Berlin, Berlin; Irina Scherbakowa, MEMORIAL, Moskau; Stefanie Schiffer, Geschäftsführerin Europäischer Austausch gGmbH, Berlin; Elena Schlosser, Konferenzdolmetscherin, Übersetzerin, Berlin; Ulrich Schreiber, internationales literaturfestival berlin, Berlin; Tom Sello, Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft e.V., Berlin; Anna Sevortian, EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Berlin; Diana Siebert, Köln; Nadja Simon, Simultandolmetscherin, Pulheim; Brigitte Steudel, Rentnerin, Berlin; Heinz Steudel, Rentner, Berlin; Wolfgang Templin, Publizist, Berlin, Stefan Troebst, Universität Leipzig; Esther Ullmann-Goertz, Pfarrerin, Mitgründerin der Gruppe "Solidarische Kirche" in der DDR, Berlin; Elisabeth Weber, Lew Kopelew Form e.V., Köln; Gerhard Weigt, Physiker, Berlin; Ingrid Weigt, Ärztin, Berlin; Gunter Weißgerber, MdB a.D., Leipzig; Reinhard Weißhuhn, Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft e.V., Berlin; Eva Wiesenecker, Slavistin und Autorin, Darmstadt.

[1] As far as there are added organizations to the signatories, this describes only the membership in the organization. It does not mean a statement by these organizations itself.

EHRAC recruiting Legal Officer and Case & Project Support Officer

posted 14 Feb 2014, 13:50 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 14 Feb 2014, 13:52 ]

14 February 2014

Source: EHRAC

EHRAC is currently recruiting for two positions to join the team at their office in London.

The Legal Officer is a full time position, for a one year renewable contract. The job reference is EHRAC - LAW26

The Case and Project Support Officer is a full time position, for a 14 month contract. The job reference is EHRAC - LAW27.

More information about these positions and how to apply can be found at

Please note the deadline for applications is 27 February 2014, and applications must be submitted to Middlesex University at the address, as per the instructions to be found at the link, and not directly to EHRAC.

Putin's Olympic Dream - On Thursday 13th February at the Lexi Cinema in London's Kensal Rise, DocHouse presents the masterfully captured documentary on Sochi 2014

posted 30 Jan 2014, 10:22 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 Jan 2014, 10:33 ]

30 January 2014

On Thursday 13th February at the Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise, DocHouse is excited to present the masterfully captured documentary on Sochi 2014, PUTIN’S OLYMPIC DREAM.

Thursday 13th February | 8:50pm | Lexi Cinema | £7 (£5 Concessions)

Dir. Hans Pool
The Netherlands - 2013 - 80mins

What does it really take to pull off the most expensive Winter Olympics in history? Putin's Olympic Dream follows the epic project of preparing for Sochi 2014 as it unfolds, capturing those involved at all levels, from entrepreneurs and oligarchs to immigrants, athletes and activists.

Please do circulate this email amongst your friends, colleagues and networks who may be interested. We would also very much appreciate you spreading word of this screening via social media, newsletters, websites and event listings. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any queries. Suggested social media copy can be found at the bottom of this email, along with a poster attached.

In preparation for the Olympics, Sochi has undergone some of the most dramatic and expensive changes of any hosting city. Formerly a nostalgic Soviet holiday resort, filled with beautiful sanatoriums, the 'Cannes of the Soviet Union' has been fast tracked to becoming a very modern Russian city.

Of course, for Vladimir Putin the games are much more than a sporting event, they are Russia's bid to return to the world stage, and a status project of colossal proportions. With no time to lose, financial, economic, political and ecological limits are breached to make it happen, and filmmaker Hans Pool masterfully captures it all as resources and people are stretched to breaking point.

Please note: There won't be adverts or trailers before this screening and the film will start promptly at 8.50pm.


Suggested social media copy:

FACEBOOK: Don’t miss DocHouse’s screening of PUTIN’S OLYMPIC DREAM at The Lexi Cinema on Feb 13th 2014:

What does it really take to pull off the most expensive Winter Olympics in history? Putin's Olympic Dream follows the epic project of preparing for Sochi 2014 as it unfolds, capturing those involved at all levels, from entrepreneurs and oligarchs to immigrants, athletes and activists.

Find out more:

TWITTER: Don't miss @IntheDocHouse screening of upcoming Sochi Olympics doc PUTIN’S OLYMPIC DREAM @TheLexiCinema - 13th Feb -

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