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November 2004
NGO Sutyajnik (Yeakaterinburg, Russia)
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telephone/fax: 7-343-355-36-51, Russia, Yekaterinburg, 620072,  Sireneviy Bulvard, 1-313; web-site: www.sutyajnik.ru e-mail: Beliaev@sutyajnik.ru President of the NGO Sutyajnik is Sergey Belyaev

Sutyajnik – A Brief Introduction

What are we?  SUTYAJNIK is a non-governmental human rights organization founded in Yekaterinburg, Russia in 1994.  Sutyajnik’s mission is to serve as a human rights resource center which assists citizens and organizations to realize the rights guaranteed in the Russian Constitution and international treaties, by litigating public interest cases, educating in human rights, and informing the public about the mechanisms for human rights protection.  One of Sutyajnik’s principal goals is to defend human rights by seeking to bring domestic legislation and practice into conformity with international and constitutional standards in these areas:

  • freedom of association;
  • rights of minorities and discrimination;
  • freedom from torture;
  • freedoms from unlawful detention, arrest, and forced medical treatment;
  • freedom of expression; 
  • freedom of religion;
  • other rights and freedoms.

Who are we?  SUTYAJNIK is a group of lawyers and senior law students dedicated to protecting the traditional areas of human rights:   Sutyajnik was founded in 1994 by Sergei Belaeiv, who remains its president.

SUTYAJNIK’S Board of Directors:

·        Tatyana Merzlyakova, Human Rights Ombudsman for Sverdlovsk oblast

·        Ludmila Alexeeva, the Chairperson of the Moscow Helsinki Group;

·        Demyan Bakhrakh, Professor of Law at the Urals State Law Academy; 

·        Kathryn Hendley, Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School;

·        William Anspach, partner in the union-side labor law firm Friedman & Wolf. 

What do we do?  SUTYAJNIK carries out its mission by:

·        Providing legal aid, by telephone, at public walk-in centers, and via the internet;

·        Providing incorporation and other legal resource services to NGOs in the Urals region;

·        Representing individuals and NGOs in judicial and administrative forums in both strategic public interest litigation and conventional cases;

·        Conducting public issue campaigns and lobbying activity; 

·        Sponsoring legal seminars and conferences;

·        Providing clinical legal education by supervising law students in interviewing and representing clients in strategic and conventional cases;

·        Operating a news agency specializing in reporting activity of human rights NGOs;

·        Challenging legislative and administrative enactments in the Russian courts;

·        Preparing applications and litigating cases in the European court of Human Rights.

Who now supports and has supported us in the past?   USAID, National Endowment for Democracy, Eurasia Foundation, Know-How Foundation (UK), Ford Foundation, the Institute of International Education (Washington), Open Society Institute-Moscow, Open Society Institute-Budapest, John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Moscow), the Civil Liberties Foundation, the Moscow Helsinki Group (Moscow), the European Council (Strasbourg), etc., among others.

What have we achieved?

In Domestic Forums: Among our most significant victories of the past years in changing practices in the application of laws, the following may be singled out: 

• Access to Justice: Sutyajnik has secured a judgment of the Constitutional Court which states that the provision of the Russian Administrative Code that denied the right to appeal administrative decisions is unconstitutional;

• Property Rights: The widespread practice of airport Security Service personnel of confiscating and destroying passengers' possessions (including items whose transport is forbidden) was declared unlawful; 

• Right to Liberty: The practice of compensation for moral damages in connection with illegal detention for less than 3 hours was created; 

• Right to Association: A precedent was set for obligating the Main Administration of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation for the Sverdlovsk oblast to refund fees paid by NGOs which are refused registration as a legal entity.

• Right to Life and Freedom from Torture: In February 2004 the Supreme Court of Russia upheld the judgment for two militiamen sentenced for their power abuse resulted in torture at the interrogation and death of the interrogated person. The third accomplice of this crime will be tried soon. 

In International Forums: In 2003, Sutyajnik received 435 inquiries regarding the use of international mechanisms for the defense of civil rights, which constitute one quarter of all requests for legal assistance.  Sutyajnik considers its role to explain the submission rules and admissibility criteria to the individuals and representatives of organizations who turn to us, to prevent the submission of clearly inadmissible complaints to international forums.  In 2003, Sutyajnik prepared and filed 13 applications on behalf of citizens to the European Court of Human Rights, alleging such violations as the right to a fair trial, freedom from torture, inhumane treatment, and punishment, the right to property, and freedom of association.

• Right to Liberty: Rakevich v. Russia – the case concerns arbitrary and unlawful detention in psychiatric hospitals. On 28 October 2003, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ms Rakevich had been detained in violation of the procedure prescribed by Russian law, in that the judicial decision ordering her confinement was delivered 39 days after she was detained, instead of 5 days prescribed by law. The Court found violations of Article 5 (1) and Article 5(4) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Right to a Fair Trial: Sutyazhnik v. Russia The case Sutyazhnik v. Russia concerns the right to a fair trial and the right to association in Russia. The case is significant for Russian NGOs because of the 1995 law which forced all NGOs in Russia to undergo a re-registration process. Written observations on the admissibility and merits of the case were exchanged in April, 2004, and in October 2004, the European Court of Human Rights awarded Sutyajnik’s staff lawyer legal aid, suggesting that the decision on admissibility will be forthcoming soon.

For more detailed information about our staff, cases, projects, and activities, including current press-releases and media reports, please visit www.sutyajnik.ru

2002 Annual Report “We Will be Soon 10 Years Old” is at http://www.sutyajnik.by.ru/reports/report2002.htm 
2003 Annual Report “We are 10” is at http://www.sutyajnik.ru/rus/reports/report_2003.html

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News Agency Sutyajnik-Press                                           +7-343-355-36-51

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