Russian Authorities Carry Out Checks at “Memorial”

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Mar 22, 2013, 6:53:58 AM3/22/13

Russian Authorities Carry Out Checks at “Memorial”

Yesterday, Russian officials carried out an unexpected “check” at the International Memorial headquarters at Karetny Ryad. About five or six officials representing the Moscow's Prosecutors' Office, the Federal Taxation Service, and the Justice Ministry, arrived at the Memorial offices at around 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 21.

Interestingly, the visit of the officials coincided with the arrival of an NTV production team. The TV cameraman, without taking time to introduce himself, started to shoot the initial dialogue between representatives of the Memorial and the Russian officials.

The journalists refused to leave despite repeated requests to do so. Finally, Memorial staff had to call the police which politely but firmly persuaded the journalists to leave.

Later, a news story was aired on NTV criminal show, entitled “Memorial Hides Incomes from Prosecutors.”

NTV's team visiting Memorial HQ yesterday is infamous for being behind An Anatomy of Protest, a two-part documentary about alleged ties between the Russian opposition and its foreign sponsors. Part Two of the film promted the Russian authorities to open an official investigation into the activities of some of the opposition figures.

The examination at "Memorial" continued today, Friday, March 22, when a similar team of investigators arrived, this time in order to check the activities of Moscow Memorial. The Moscow Memorial is an independent organisation and a member of the International Memorial focusing, inter alia, on aid to victims of Soviet-time political persecution.

According to the so-called federal Prokuratura act, Russian prosecutors have the power to carry out an official examination of organisations' activities without prior warning in case they have received a complaint from an individual saying the organisation's activities violate the law.

Similar investigations have been carried in about 25 public NGOs across Russia recently.

When leaving Memorial offices at around 2 p.m., the officials did not exclude the possibility they will come back for further examination on Monday.

March 22, 2013

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