Andrey Rylkov Foundation
for Health and Social Justice

50,000 rubles (US$862) for a 2011 hyperlink to an undesirable organization

Translated by: Baira Nokhaeva

Judicial District No.427 of the Shchukino district of the city of Moscow fined the Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice (ARF) 50,000 rubles (US$862) with regard to a case about the activity of a foreign non-governmental organization (NGO) on the territory of Russia. It was decided to designate the NGO as “undesirable organization” according to 20.33 Article of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation. MediaZone was provided with this information by Anna Sarang, Head of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation

Administrative trial was initiated in October 2017 by Khoroshevsky Inter-district Prosecutor’s Office of Moscow. The Prosecutor’s Office explained that the website of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation (the organization is included in the list of foreign agents) had an active hyperlink to a publication on the website of the Open Society Foundations (OSF), which was recognized as “undesirable organization” by the Prosecutor General’s Office in November 2015.

The link was found in “Pre-trial custody shall not pose risks to health” article published on the Foundation website in July 2011. The Prosecutor’s Office order stated that the ARF violated the prohibition on the distribution of information materials of non-governmental organizations by not removing the hyperlink. The Prosecutor’s Office also demanded to “hold individuals who committed violations disciplinary liable”.

The ARF lawyer Vladimir Tsvingli commented on the protocol and pointed out the illegality of the claims of the Prosecutor’s Office, because according to him, “they charge with offence in the form of omission”.

“This means that the law prohibits committing certain acts – distribution of information materials, but it is not the obligation of an unlimited scope of persons to commit certain acts, for example, to remove all the links (which were created before the end of May 2015) to the Open Society Foundations,” noted Tsvingli. In addition, he thinks that a requirement to hold employees disciplinary liable was another illegal Prosecutor’s Office action, “because turning the right of an employer to hold employees disciplinary liable into his/her duty is by itself against the law”.

“We can say that a new round of repression concerning non-governmental organizations engaged in socially significant work and HIV/AIDS prevention has started.  Last year the Ministry of Justice did not let us work properly as we constantly had to deal with problems related to the law on foreign agents, and now they have come up with a new idea — to search for links to undesirable organizations’ websites. Note that the link was posted 6 years ago, that was five years before the implementation of the law on undesirable organizations,” Anna Sarang explained to “MediaZona”. “The law does not oblige us to delete the information after the adoption of the law on “undesirable organizations”, therefore the requirements of the Prosecutor’s Office are absolutely illegal and we will appeal against them. We consider that the situation is completely unacceptable as we have to pay these illegally imposed fines instead of spending this amount of money on saving lives, protecting people from HIV and preventing drug overdoses.”

Original text in Russian:

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