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Mother's Right Foundation threatened with closure - Foundation to help the families of soldiers who have died is itself in need of our help

21 January 2013

By Natalya Zotova 

Source: Novaya gazeta

Between 5,000 and 7,000 people a year turn to the Mother's Right Foundation for help. The foundation helps the parents of children killed while serving in the army (many soldiers die as a result of bullying, the negligent attitude of those in charge and accidents) to gain access to free legal aid. The foundation's lawyers win 72%-75% of cases, helping to punish those guilty of the death of conscripts and assisting the parents in receiving money as set out in the law, something the government is trying to tighten up on. 

The foundation has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for some time. But now there is not even enough money to pay their lawyers' travel expenses.

The Mother's Right Foundation is not officially classified as a "foreign agent": the recently adopted law on NGOs contains an exemption allowing charitable organisations to continue receiving funding from abroad. The problem is that foreign donors are unaware of this, or they don't want to know about it. "The majority of foreign foundations, apart from two or three, have curtailed their programmes in Russia. Maybe they are playing it safe, or maybe they despair of changing anything," says head of Mother's Right Foundation Veronika Marchenko.

Recently, discussions with the US-based MacArthur Foundation over the possibility of receiving a substantial grant  that would have supported their work for the next three years came to nothing. Mother's Right also failed to obtain a grant from the Public Chamber four years running, after which they gave up trying. Admittedly, they do receive a steady stream of private donations, from ordinary people. And for the past few months volunteers have been helping out: they deal with the paperwork, handle translations, and publish the newspaper (these are sent out to people who have no internet access, and in very remote rural areas this means most people), and even repair the office equipment. But it is not enough.

"In Russia people donate money for sick children and orphans, for the environment and for animals. The latest trend is to help political prisoners. But we have no time to attend rallies, we work 12 hours every day, so that even support for the opposition movement passes us by," explains Marchenko. "We've been given a huge boost by Russian railway and airline companies, who give us discounts for fares for our lawyers. That has added about 25% to our budget. But discounts are only useful if you can pay the main part of the service." The Mother's Right Foundation no longer has even the money to pay their office rent.

But the most worrying aspect is that there aren't the resources to fund the foundation's main activities.

These are the people who currently need assistance:

Nizhny Tagil. The Dedyukhin family lost a son and grandson through suicide. The Mother's Right Foundation has already brought to trial Dmitry Dedyukhin's fellow soldier who drove him to suicide. The offender was sentenced to four years in prison and the foundation is currently seeking compensation for moral damages for Dmitry's family.

Vladikavkaz. The mothers of contract soldiers killed in action in 1996 and 2001 have been refused survivor's pensions.

Novosibirsk. Lawyers for The Mother's Right Foundation proved in court that conscript Aleksei Petrov hanged himself as a result of humiliation by his commanding officer and fellow soldiers. The foundation has now sued for compensation for moral damages so that his mother can receive financial support, but they are unable to continue working on the case.

Tver. The Mother's Right Foundation has been working on the case of the Konev family for many months: their policeman son died in a shoot-out in Chechnya and the state has left his parents without means of support as no beneficiary was appointed for his survivor's pension.

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. A retrial into the case of sailor Sergei Khudoroshko, who died as a result of bullying, has not been brought to a conclusion.

Court sessions for these cases will take place in the last week of January and first week of February. However, these are not the only people in need of assistance, there are thousands of others who will face similar problems in the future. They will have nowhere to turn.

The budget for the Mother's Right Foundation is 500,000 RUB a month. "What we need now is 500 people (not a large number for such a big city) who are prepared to give us 1,000 roubles of their monthly income for a period of six months," says Veronika. "Six months is how long it will take us to find a new sponsor."

How to make a donation to the foundation: 

Recipient: Interregional Charitable Foundation "Mother's Right" (Межрегиональный благотворительный общественный фонд «Право матери»)
Address: 4 Luchnikov Pereulok (Entrance 3, Room 4), Moscow 101000 (101000, г. Москва, Лучников переулок, д. 4, под. 3, ком. 4)
Recipient's bank: VTB Bank, Office No. 3 Turgenevsky, Moscow (ОАО «Банк ВТБ», офис № 3 «Тургеневский», г. Москва)
Account number: 40703810000000000072
Correspondent account number: 30101810700000000187
Tax reference number (ИНН)— 7710043971
BIC — 044525187
Tax registration reason code — 771001001
OKATO code [Russia-wide classification of administrative and territorial objects] (Код ОКАТО [Общероссийский классификатор объектов административно-территориального деления])— 45286585000
OKPO code [Russia-wide classification of enterprises and organizations] (Код по ОКПО [Общероссийский классификатор предприятий и организаций]) — 00043280
In the 'purpose of payment' field you must enter: "Charitable donation for the officially established activities of the foundation." (Благотворительное пожертвование на уставную деятельность фонда)
You can also make a donation to the foundation using Yandex.Money, RBK Money and via the Blago.Ru website (go to