Procurators look for Kolobok The Extremist and Turnip The Foreign Agent in a printing shop

Starting March 26, 2013 procurator’s offices carry out checks of the private charitable establishment ADC “Memorial”. Thousands of copies of documents were requested to be provided, while the admnistration of the organization has spent hours and hours answering the questions about all the events that took place “after November 20, 2012”, and of course, the sources of financing for them.

Things which were considered a joke at the beginning, such as the requests of Rospotrebnadzor (Russian consumer watchdog) “to instruimentally measure microclimate and acoustic noises” in the office, after about a month grew into a serious threat. The sum total of all possible claims on eight such violations grew to a potential Rb 500,000-700,000 in penalties (equivalent to about $16,000-22,600) and these cases are to be presented before the courts in the coming days.

But assistant to the procurator Mr. Dmitry Smirnov didn’t stop at these “cases”, although he admitted off the record that there are no legal violations here, but “they – Rospotrebnadzor and the Ministry of emergency situations – insist”. In the end he deeply sighed, but nevertheless officially opened administrative cases against ADC “Memorial”.

After formally following his duty of a procurator, one could expect that he could stop active reprisals against the organization which specializes in defending the rights of victims of discrimination, first of all – children of Roma people and labor migrants. But the procurator’s office instead decided to continue investigation in a quite unexpected manner. On April 29 checks were intiated against a printing company which published books of Russian fairy tales in Roma language edited by ADC “Memorial”. These books were aimed for Roma children, the authors of the books were intending to help them master reading, righting and coloring (the books feature many illustrations). The content of the books included well-known Russian fairy tales about Turnip, Kolobok, Tower Chamber, Mary and the Bear. It seems that while checking non-government organizations for extremism and the characteristics of “foreign agents”, the procurators couldn’t afford to overlook such suspicious publications. That is why they sent to the printing shop police officers, who urged the printers “to voluntarily handle printed materials published for ADC “Memorial””.

What other “counter-agents” of NGOs risk to face similar checks by the law enforcement agents (though without the slightest legal basis – as no criminal cases have been opened against these NGOs, which could allow to interrogate all those related to the accused)? Should we be expecting police raids on the railway ticket offices because some organizations “suspected of being foreign agents” could have bought tickets there in order to go to some conference? Or the stationery shops where office supplies were bought by the NGOs now subject to checks? Or probably museums visited by children as part of projects “financed from abroad”? We do not know.