MOSCOW, November 18 (RAPSI, Saria Kiut) - The Zamoskvoretsky District Court in Moscow postponed until February 4 the consideration of a lawsuit challenging the Moscow prosecutor's office's order instructing Memorial Human Rights Center to register as a "foreign agent" in line with the controversial NGO law, RAPSI reported from the courtroom on Monday.
In February, eleven Russian NGOs, Memorial among them, lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) protesting against the "foreign agents" law.
The court granted a motion filed by the human rights center. The NGO finds it impossible to consider the lawsuit until the ECHR hears the complaint.
A federal law was passed last November requiring all NGOs engaged in political activity, and receiving finance from abroad, to register as a "foreign agents," or face fines of up to 500,000 rubles (app. $16,000). In February eleven Russian NGOs, Moscow Helsinki Group among them, lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) protesting the law.
Inspections of NGOs began in late March 2013 when the Justice Ministry said its goal was to check that these organizations' activities corresponded with the objectives of their charters and Russian legislation. Up to 2,000 rights groups and NGOs in Russia have been raided by prosecutors and other officials, according to some estimates.
Memorial Human Rights Center was asked to register as a foreign agent in April. The center vowed to appeal the decision. The center's head, Alexander Cherkasov, believes that its initiatives against politically motivated administrative and criminal prosecution were seen as political activity.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has said before that he doesn't see any point in toughening or liberalizing the law but stands for putting things in order. "Some clear criteria for political activity should be set," he said in August at the youth forum at Lake Seliger, an annual gathering in Russia's Tver Region.