Week-ending 22 January 2021
The School of Civic Education is an independent educational project founded in 1992 by Elena Nemirovskaya and Yury Senokosov to advance the knowledge and values essential to the conduct of democratic civic life. In 2014 the organisation was designated a ‘foreign agent’ NGO by the Russian authorities. The School of Civic Education, formerly known as the School of Political Studies, is a member of the Council of Europe’s Association of the Schools of Political Studies. In December 2020 the Russian government designated the Association as an ‘undesirable’ foreign organisation. A 2015 law allows prosecutors to shut down ‘undesirable’ organizations if they are deemed to be a threat to Russia’s national interests. Russian citizens who advance the purposes of ‘undesirable’ foreign organisations can be subject to criminal prosecution.
In a letter dated 14 January 2021 the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejcinovic Buric, asked the authorities in Moscow to clarify “the circumstances” that led to what she called the ‘unacceptable’ decision to classify the Association of the Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe as an ‘undesirable organisation’ in the Russian Federation. The Association is a non-profit body and has no political or religious aims. It is governed by a Board made up of the Directors of schools of political studies and three to ten members elected by the General Assembly of the Council of Europe for four years. The current chair of the Association is Catherine Lalumière, former Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
RFE/RL, 16 January 2021: The head of the Council of Europe has expressed “great concern” after the Association of Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe was added to the list of “undesirable” organizations in Russia. In a letter dated January 14 and obtained by RFE/RL, Council of Europe Secretary-General Marija Pejcinovic Buric asked Moscow to clarify “the circumstances” that led to the decision, which she called “unacceptable.” “I cannot stress enough how problematic is the notion that an organization such as the Association of Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe, closely linked to our organization and uniting schools of political studies, aiming to organize civic education activities based on the Council of Europe values and principles, would represent a threat” to a Council of Europe member state, reads the letter, addressed to Russian Justice Minister Konstantin Chuychenko.