25 May 2005 Eight-Year Fight for the Right to
Association or The Guide on Self-Protection for All Non-Governmental
Organizations in Russia
Non-government organization refused re-registration for eight years
Lawyers and activists of the non-government association Sutyajnik are
celebrating the victory over the corrupt bureaucracy. This association of young
human rights lawyers has won its court case against the Regional Department of
Justice in Sverdlovsk. Sutyajnik has obtained official confirmation of its legal
status after eight years of fighting.
In 1995 a new law on non-governmental organizations was adopted. The law
required that all NGOs established before 1995 be re-registered by 1 July 1999.
Sutyajnik applied twice for re-registration to the Regional Department of
Justice. However, their applications were refused. This law was used as a filter
to silence active non-governmental organizations about human rights violations.
Officials returned all documents to Sutyajnik because of co-called ‘spelling and
punctuation mistakes’. Days ago Department of Justice was forced to issue the
long-awaited documents to the NGO by means of execution of the Court decision.
For the past eight years the ten-years-old Sutyajnik was fighting both for the
protection of citizen rights and for its own right to association to protect
human rights. There were 20 cases in different Courts including 2 in the
European Court of Human Rights on this matter.
In 1999 the Commercial Court of Sverdlovsk region ruled for the applicant. The
Supreme Commercial Court quashed the decision. In 2002 Kirovskiy District Court
of Yekaterinburg ruled for the applicant once again. This decision was upheld by
the High Court (Sverdlovsk Oblast Court). But that decision had not been
executed until the last few days. That is why Sutyajnik applied to the European
Court of Human Rights pleading a violation of Article 6 of the European
Convention. Last year Russian Government had been communicated by the European
Court on the questions of whether there was a violation of the Rights to a Fair
Trial in the case Sutyajnik v. Russia. (for more details see
The situation changed after the intervention of the European Court. Sutyajnik
approved his legal status. It is not a secret that refusal of re-registration of
active non-governmental organizations is usual practice in the Russian
The well known principle is still in force: no organization – no problems.
Sutyajnik is not the only organization suffering from 1995 changes in
legislation. Celebrating its victory, Sutyajnik’s human rights solders promise
to go up to the victorious end in case Sutyajnik v Russia to help other
There is no doubt about Sutyajnik’s victory. There is only one question left:
how long will Russia be dishonored in the heart of Europe in a monthly basis due
to separate corrupt officials? Or it is a state policy?
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News Agency Sutyajnik-Press +7-343-355-36-51
SUTYAJNIK, a non-governmental human rights
organization founded in Yekaterinburg in 1994, is a resource center for many
non-governmental public interest groups of the Ural region and provides free
legal defense of the rights and interests of citizens and their associations.