On May 14, 2013 representatives of non-commercial organizations (NCOs) met with the human rights ombudsman for Saint Petersburg Alexander Shishlov at the office of “Civic Control” NCO. Two main topics discussed during the meeting were ombudsman’s annual report for 2012 and the campaign of illegitimate checks of NCOs which is under way in Russia now.
NCO representatives gave a positive feedback on the annual report of ombudsman, but noted that not enough attention was paid in the report to some areas of human rights defense. In particular, representative of ADC “Memorial” noted the absence of information on hate crimes and recommended to pay greater attention to problems of racism. ADC “Memorial” in cooperation with human rights organization “Vykhod” (“Way Out”) contributed to the report of the Saint Petersburg Council for Human Rights a chapter on problems of discrimination.
Active discussion about the possibilities for cooperation between the NCOs and the apparatus of ombudsman took place. NCOs not only could serve as experts for the Consultative council of ombudsman, but could also participate in preparing the annual report next year.
But the most debated topic was the checks of NCOs, which not only put in question the continuation of their activities, but also pose a threat to the development of civil society in general.
Alexander Shishlov stated that any illegitimate activities of state bodies should be appealed in court. He also promised to deliver an appeal from non-commercial organizations to the Russian Federation ombudsman on human rights Valdimir Lukin. During the meeting it was also stated that NCOs should present a common position and act in solidarity with each other, that they should support organizations which already faced administrative court proceedings against them.
Press report (in Russian):