As a part of the governmental policy, FSB together with the Center for Combating Extremism and Prosecutor’s Office (all local departments) searched Environmental Watch on North Caucasus. From the very beginning, controllers violated the law. First, officers, with exception of one woman from the Prosecutor’s Office, did not state their names, did not present any documents proving their identities or the basis of the examination. No information on the purpose and the reason of the inspection were given. All these constitute violation of the federal law “On legal entities and individual entrepreneur protection during the state and municipal control.”
Examiners scrutinized financial documents and documents establishing the NGO.
Examiners were mostly concerned the EWNC’s project on Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Within this project, EWNC will publish “Environmental Impact of the Preparation to Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Independent Report.” Examiners ‘recommended’ not to publish the report as it will ‘damage Russia.’ Andrey Rudomakha responded that the Report will be published anyway. Consequently, examiners stated using pressuring measures.
They checked whether EWNC has authentic PC programs. Regretting, that all programs are free for all users, the officer of the Prosecutor’s Office then asked to login into EWNC’s email seriously violating the Russian Constitution. EWNC told examiners that it is illegal and as a response, Prosecutor’s Office officer threatened with a fine (50,000 rubles). As there is nothing secret in the EWNC email, examiners were allowed to look it through. They were reading emails for an hour and a half. They did not find anything interesting. Some examiners were scrutinizing correspondence from the EWNC’s web-site. Others were brainwashing while asking question such as “are you conducting espionage,” ‘why didn’t you register as a foreign agent?’ etc.
Altogether, the inspection lasted for three hours. As a result, EWNC is requested to present all financial documents for the last three years by next Monday.
We believe it is not the last inspection. Such search/control measures are misused by the government as tool to suppress NGOs. Thus, only on the Caucasus region, Southern Regional Resource Center, Center for ecological education ‘Aqua’, Krasnodar public organization on tadzhik national culture ‘Mekhri Somonien’, Information Training center ‘Levados’ and others were persecuted the same way as EWNC.
By Yulia Genin based on materials by EWNC.
March 28, 2013