18 December 2014
Dear friends and colleagues,
I would like to inform you that the Sakharov Centre in Moscow very much needs your help. We know that everything is more or less clear when it comes to the Law on Foreign Agents. But when the law was the centre of attention, they just tried to scare us with it, and inspections didn’t harm us at all. Following the unscheduled inspection on 17 December, there is clearly a threat of closure or registration on the Foreign Agent list in the air.
On 4 December, the Sakharov Centre received a notification of a document inspection from 12 December to 19 January by the Main Administration of the Ministry of Justice, Moscow. In addition, we also received a copy of an instruction that informs us that this inspection is being conducted ‘with the aim of checking information received on 1 December 2014 from an anonymous citizen.’
The last unscheduled inspection at the Sakharov Centre finished only in September, and the inspecting authorities were left with nothing to show for their work. The Sakharov Centre reaches out to the public and aids the conduct of free public discussion. We do not work for state institutions and, moreover, we do not participate in electoral campaigns. In this sense, our activities cannot be considered ‘political’. But there is a tendency in recent decisions taken by the Ministry of Justice (i.e. in relation to the Moscow School of Civil Education) to consider conversations about political problems a form of ‘political activity’. And accordingly, this is what threatens to brand us with a label that is incompatible with what we do. Registering as a foreign agent is tantamount to administrative stigmatisation and imprisonment in a virtual ghetto.
On the 25th anniversary of Andrei Sakharov’s death, the Sakharov Center’s registration as a foreign agent would symbolise the final break from the 25 year history of post-communist Russia. We understand that we won’t be saved by sob stories, but to disappear without a sound would be extremely insulting. Therefore we would be very grateful to everyone who might write about us and what threatens our future.
Director of Discussion Programmes, Sakharov Centre
Address of the Sakharov Centre:
105120 Moscow, Zemlyanoi Val St., House 57, Building 6,