Reactions in Russia and abroad
On 2 June, the founder and chair of the Russian NGO ‘Women of the Don’, VALENTINA CHEREVATENKO, was formally charged with ‘malicious non-implementation’ of the law on ‘foreign agents’. Cherevatenko is the first Russian citizen to be charged with criminal responsibility under this law. If found guilty, she could face up to two years’ imprisonment.
“The only reason why Cherevatenko is being brought to court and risks losing her freedom is her unceasing defence of human rights,” said Denis Krivosheev, the deputy director of Amnesty International for Europe and Central Asia. “The case against her illustrates just how far the Russian authorities are prepared to use repressive measures against the independent organizations of civil society. The criminal prosecution of Cherevatenko sends a clear signal to all Russian NGOs – their members may find themselves facing arbitrary charges and the threat of prison simply for accepting foreign financial aid to work on human rights’
‘The mounting of a criminal case for non-implementation of the law on ‘foreign agents’ represents a very serious worsening of an already stressful situation as regards human rights activity in Russia,’ emphasized the well-known human rights organization, Human Rights Watch.
According to the Memorial Human Rights Centre, the prosecution of Valentina Cherevatenko is politically motivated. ‘It is part of a campaign which the state is waging against non-governmental organizations which dare to criticize the authorities, and it is aimed at stopping Cherevatenko’s legal, public, activity and, also, more generally, at frightening people who adopt positions on social issues counter to the official ones, and who engage in independent public action’ declared Memorial. ‘We demand the dropping of the criminal case against Valentina Cherevatenko, and the repeal of the discriminatory and pernicious legislation on “foreign agents”.’
Valentina Cherevatenko heads the coordinating council of the Union ‘Women of the Don’ and is chair of the board of the same-named Foundation for encouraging the development of civil society and human rights. Both organizations carry out educational programmes on human rights and the promotion of peace, and are also involved in humanitarian projects in the North Caucasus. The Union ‘Women of the Don’ was included in the register of foreign agents in 2014, the Foundation in 2015 (see Under Attack, 2016).
More information about Valentina Cherevatenko.
Translated by Mary McAuley
Published on 2 June by HRO.org