The Moscow City Court approved the Justice Ministry’s claim to liquidate the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), Russia’s oldest human rights organization. It took only one meeting on merits to reach a decision. The defense rejected the calling of all the witnesses.
The Ministry of Justice claimed that the MHG operated throughout Russia, not just Moscow, although it was registered as a regional organization. Thus, he allegedly violated “territorial activity limits”, which the department considered. The lawsuit was the result of an unscheduled inspection carried out in November at the request of the prosecutor’s office.
According to Roman Kiselev, head of legal programs at MHG, Roman Kiselev, the group’s “regional events” include comments on high-profile trials, complaints about denial of access to courts, seminars (including online) with partners from other Russian regions . and even an appeal to the governor of St. Louis to ban single pickets. In total, there are 11 episodes of “violations” in the Justice Ministry’s lawsuit.
MHG’s lawyers insisted that appeals to regional authorities and visits by individual members of the group could not be considered activities in the region, and that MHG did not organize any events of its own outside Moscow. He also cited the decision of the Appellate Board of the Supreme Court of Russia in the Monuments case, which stated that activities in this area are allowed only when there is a structural subdivision of the organization.
lawyer Henry Reznik urged the court to dismiss the lawsuit, which “Nothing to do with the law.” “I completely reject that the employees of the Ministry of Justice do not know that we do not have a regional law,” he said. – The Main Department of the Ministry of Justice, probably with prior agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office, decided to liquidate the MHG. I can’t explain it any other way.” Despite the defense’s arguments, Judge Mikhail Kazakov satisfied the claim in less than 20 minutes.
The Moscow Helsinki Group was established in 1976. It declares its task “to promote the observance of human rights and the construction of democracy in Russia”. In 2012, the organization refused foreign funding in connection with the adoption of the Law on “Foreign Agents”.
One of the co-founders of MHG was well-known human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseeva. She led the group from 1996 until her death in 2018. Putin personally congratulated her on her 90th birthday, for which he had come to her home. Then he thanked her for “life for the people” and said that all this time she was “doing the main thing.”