17 January 2023
by Maria Starikova
Representatives of the Moscow department of the Ministry of Justice and lawyers of the Moscow Helsinki Group met in Moscow City Court on Monday, Svetlana Astrakhantseva, executive director of the Moscow Helsinki Group, has told Kommersant. The meeting was an obligatory step before the opening of court proceedings over the Ministry of Justice’s suit to shut down the Moscow Helsinki Group. The human rights defenders objected to the Ministry’s demands to close down the group and filed a motion to postpone the trial, Astrakhantseva explained.
Last December, the Ministry of Justice demanded the liquidation of the Moscow Helsinki Group (the oldest human rights organization operating in Russia – it has been active since 1976). As Kommersant reported earlier, the Moscow Helsinki Group is accused of 11 violations of the law ‘On Non-Profit Organisations,’ all of which in one way or another concern ‘exceeding the limits of territorial activity.’ The Justice Ministry said that human rights activists from a regional organisation (that is, limited to the territory of Moscow) had no right to participate even in online events organised in other cities, much less attend high-profile trials outside the capital.
‘We submitted our objections to the position of the Ministry of Justice and have asked Moscow City Court to postpone the hearing, because at the same time the Gagarin district court in Moscow has registered our suit challenging the unscheduled inspection by the prosecutor’s office (the results of which formed the basis for the Ministry of Justice’s suit to close down the Moscow Helsinki Group. – Kommersant),’ Svetlana Astrakhantseva explained. ‘It is not yet clear whether the court will grant the motion – the decision will be announced at the first substantive hearing on the organisation’s liquidation.’
According to available information, the first court hearing on the petition to liquidate the Moscow Helsinki Group filed by the Moscow department of the Ministry of Justice is scheduled for 25 January.
Translated by Simon Cosgrove