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Constitutional Court decision on collective complaint from NGOs

18 February 2015

On 17 February 2015, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation declared a provision of the Federal Law On the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation unconstitutional, since it lacked time limits for implementation of inspector’s requirements. The case was initiated on the grounds of a collective complaint from non-governmental organisations listed by the Ministry of Justice as international agents.

For reference: in 2012–2014 the Moscow City Prosecutor’s Office jointly with representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Tax Service inspected several non-governmental organisations. During the inspections their statutory and financial documents had been repeatedly requested and examined. The inspections were aimed at finding out whether the NGOs had been sponsored from abroad.

Public organisations Memorial human rights centre, Memorial International Association, Civic Assistance, Agora interregional association of public human rights organisations, Zabaikalsky human rights centre, International Standard Foundation, as well as chairperson of the Civic Assistance Committee Svetlana Gannushkina submitted a complaint to the Constitutional Court against the Federal Law On the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation, which according to the complainants allowed the prosecutor’s office to launch too frequent inspections disturbing their regular workflow.

Having considered the parties’ opinions, the Constitutional Court ascertained that the law indeed had questionable provisions which did not determine accurate time limits for inspections, as well as allowed the inspectors to establish the time limits for implementation of their requirements at their own discretion.

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