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Rights Group of the Week: Dront

posted 2 Nov 2015, 01:35 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Nov 2015, 02:03 ]
On 23rd October 2015 a magistrates’ court in Nizhny Novgorod for a second time imposed a huge fine of 300,000 roubles on the environmental activists of Dront, an association first founded in 1989 ['Dront' is the Russian word for ‘Dodo’]The environmentalists were found guilty of failing to indicate at all times the ‘foreign agent’ status imposed on them by officials. Earlier this month, the Anti-Extremism Centre (Centre-E) of the Nizhny Novgorod branch of the police ministry asked the regional branch of the Roskomnador media watchdog to carry out an inspection regarding a summer concert in support of Dront. At the event, musicians, dancers and activists from Nizhny Novgorod had spoken out against the designation of Dront as a so-called ‘foreign agent’According to officials, Dront should somehow have indicated at the event that it was being organized by ‘foreign agents.’ The organizer of the event, Maria Popova, responded, however, that ‘Neither the organizing committee of the concert, nor the participants were members of the NGO Dront.’ ‘And since we do not perform the function of a "foreign agent," we cannot be so described and this label bears no relation to reality.’ A second reason for the case being brought against Dront was apparently the Centre's website. ‘According to officials, on this site it is not always clear that the organization acts as a foreign agent,’ activist Sergei Novikov has said. ‘It is published on the home page and specified in the news stories, if they looked into them. But it is not on each and every link to the news stories.’ This is the second time the NGO has been fined. Dront was fined 300,000 roubles this summer for refusing to voluntarily register as ‘an organization which performs the activities of a foreign agent.’ On 22 May 2015 the Ministry of Justice included Dront on the register of 'foreign agent' NGOs despite the fact that Dront was not in receipt of any foreign funding.

NB: Rights in Russia considers Dront to be a human rights organization on the basis of its important work to advance environmental rights.

'Huge fine imposed on environmental group Dront in Nizhny Novgorod,' HRO.org in English, 27 October 2015
'Attacks on Nizhny Novgorod environmental NGO Dront continue,' HRO.org in English, 20 October 2015
Website of the Friends of Dront

Photo: Dront's Facebook page