On the closure of the “Russian – Chechen Friendship Society
The Human Rights Centre “Memorial” is outraged over the ruling by the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court to close down the civic organization “Russian – Chechen Friendship Society”. The pretext for its liquidation, together with trivial infringements, was the fact that the organization had not “distanced itself” from its director, Stanislav Dmitrievsky, who in spring of this year, on an absurd charge of extremist activities was wrongfully given a two year suspended sentence.
The courts ruling was based on the law “On countering extremist activity” in its new version. There can remain no doubts whatsoever that the amendments to this law introduced in summer 2006 were aimed at crushing freedom of speech and violate the rights of citizens to information. And this ruling is clearly merely the beginning of a “witch hunt”.
This development is extremely dangerous for Russia. The suppression of criticism leaves society defenceless against corruption, unlawful use of force and other abuses of power. Without access to comprehensive information, without free discussion, without opposition to the official point of view society and the authorities lose any sense of reality and follow a path which spells ruin for the country.