Karelia Youth Human Rights Group (YHRG)

The Karelia regional branch of the public, inter-regional youth volunteer organization Youth Human Rights Group (YHRG) is an independent, non-governmental, non-commercial, non-political organization, registered on 29 June 2000 in Petrozavodsk.

The director of the organization: Maksim Efimov

Mission: The defence of human rights and the building of a just, democratic and free society in Russia.

The goals of the organization include:

• assistance in the implementation of programmes in defence of human rights and support for the human rights movement;

• active support for and realization of educational projects for youths;

• assistance for the development of noncommercial human rights defence groups and public initiatives, particularly youth initiatives;

• prevention of fascism, nationalism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, chauvinism, extremism, and Nazism;

• promotion of personal development and the intellectual, cultural and spiritual potential of young people;

• active support for antimilitarism and the movement for world peace;

• defence of democratic values.

The main projects carried out by our organization include:

“Public Reception” – The project’s volunteers give legal advice free of charge on the issues of human rights violations.

“The Right Not to Serve” – This programme gives assistance in defending the right not to serve in the army on the basis of one’s religion.

“Resistance” – This programme draws attention to the problems associated with the danger of widespread xenophobic nationalist prejudices; facilitates a humanistic, democratic and tolerant consciousness of Petrozavodsk children. Financial support for this programme comes from the office of the Barentsev Region (Norway).

“The School of Honest Journalism”– Young people are given the opportunity to learn about the basics of journalism and to express their opinions in the newspaper “Chas Nol’” (Zero Hour).

“Monitoring of Xenophobia, Racial Discrimination and Anti-Semitism in the Russian Federation” – This programme is based on the European Union’s project entitled “The Public campaign to stop racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and ethnic discrimination in the multi-national Russian Federation”, supervised by the “Moscow Bureau for Human Rights”.

“Establishment of Pro-Democracy, Educational Centers and Work with Young People in Karelia”. The foundation “Memory and the Future” provided financial support for this programme.

“Discussion Club ‘Pro et Contra’” – Тhe goal of this programme is to facilitate intellectual conversations among students and professors on important social themes and problems.

“Formation of Tolerance and Denouncement of Xenophobia, Nationalism, Anti-Semitism, and Neo-Fascism among Young People”. This programme is funded by a grant received from the American embassy in Moscow, in particular from its Commission for Democracy.

“Lessons of the Holocaust – the Path to Tolerance and Civic Activism”. Participants learned about the history of the Holocaust and were told about the importance of respecting human rights and defending democratic values.

“Everyone is Diverse ­– Everyone is Equal”. The goal of this project is to work against xenophobia, islamophobia, romaphobia and homophobia.

“Youths and Tradition” – This programme is directed towards a spiritual, ethical and intellectual development of young people, who are in search of the truth and the meaning of life. Familiarity with the spiritual culture of the Russian north will help youths to possess a deeper understanding of life’s true value, to enter into direct contact with Russian culture, to learn about the ideals of Sergei Radonezhskii, to meet with very special people, who have settled in the Russian north and embody the evangelical principles of goodness, love, and empathy.

“Yurii Linnik People’s University” gives students the opportunity to engage with world philosophy through Yu. V. Linnik’s live commentary and through his poetry and to familiarize themselves with the history of philosophy so that they can spend their free time developing their minds.

“Monitoring the Right to Free Assembly”. The goal of this investigation is to clarify how the work of regional branches of the Federal Reserve System, along with NGOs, influence the realization of the right to free assembly. This investigation was conducted under the auspices of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

“Internet-Video Programming – Youth Human Rights Group” – We have found a way around the limitations on freedom of speech: we have created our own television on the Internet. We post video-clips, interviews and films that YHRG selects.

“Support of Multi-Functional Human Rights Defence Centres Throughout Russia” – This is coordinated by the Moscow Helsinki Group’s project in Karelia. The goal of the project includes legal consultation for citizens, monitoring of human rights violations, development of a system of checks and balances, educational activities, informational work, and the support of new strategies in the development of civil society.

“Monitoring of Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Russia” – This is coordinated by the joint project of the Russian LGBT branch and the Moscow Helsinki Group in Karelia. The subjects of this monitoring include: legal discrimination against sexual minorities in Russia and instigation of such discrimination on the part of the state institutions and non-governmental organizations (including religious organizations) and mass media; the government’s reactions to discrimination against sexual minorities; discrimination targeted at gays, lesbians and transsexuals by the judicial organs of state power.

“Monitoring Acts of Xenophobia, Religious Intolerance, Hate and Discrimination in 2008-2009” – This is a project of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

“Monitoring Xenophobia Among Youths” – A project of the Youth Helsinki Group in 2009.

“Monitoring the Freedom of Assembly” – A project of the Youth Helsinki Group in 2009.

“Monitoring of Social, Economic and Cultural rights” – under the auspices of the Youth Helsinki Group.

Activists and volunteers took part in numerous training sessions, conferences, competitions, and conducted their own activities. They published a newspaper and a collection of articles, entitled “Democracy is My Choice”, and also the following books: Essays on Contemporary Racism, Novgorod the Great and the Russian North, The Cosmology of Russian Festivals, The Spirituality of the Russian North, and a small book Islam and Tolerance, as well as a collection of CDs with lectures and talks by intellectuals.

The members of the YHRG visited Holland, the USA, Poland, Denmark, France, Finland, Switzerland, Israel, Spain, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Romania and Lithuania. The YHRG's activities are funded by the donations of its members, grants from charitable organizations, and citizens' donations. Volunteers include university and high school students and teachers. The organization is in close contact with a number of Russian and foreign human rights organizations, and is part of a European network against racism, United, and of an international peace-movement The Youth Chooses Peace.

http://right.karelia.ru/ (the official site of YHRG)

Address: 185026, Petrozavodsk, c/o 17 (to Maksim Efimov).
e-mail: dekalog@mail.ru

Rights in Russia,
14 Sept 2010, 01:24