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Rights Group of the Week: Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus

posted 22 May 2017, 09:04 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 May 2017, 09:12 ]
On 17 May 2017 the Supreme Court of Adygei quashed cases against Environmental Watch for Northern Caucasus (EcoWatch) brought under the foreign agent law, and cancelled fines that had been imposed earlier on the NGO under the same law. As Caucasian Knot, reports, citing Andrei Rudomakha, the coordinator of EcoWatch, a judge sitting in Maikop City Court had fined EcoWatch and its leader under administrative law for failing to include indications that the group was a 'foreign agent' NGO on press releases it published. The suit against EcoWatch had been brought by the government media oversight agency, Roskomnadzor, for the Southern Federal District.

According to Andrei Rudomakha, on 17 May 2017 the Supreme Court of Adygei quashed these judgments on appeal on the grounds that EcoWatch had not been informed by the Ministry of Justice that it had been included in the 'foreign agent register' at the time of the publication of the press releases in question.

Legal support for EcoWatch in the case was provided by the NGO Lawyers' Club. 

Rights in Russia has earlier reported that, on 21 March 2017, Sofia Rusova, a board member of the North Caucasus Environmental Watch (also known as EcoWatch), an NGO, was detained during a one-person picket she was holding in Moscow. As Caucasian Knot reported, Sofia Rusova was protesting against the construction of ski resorts in the Caucasian Reserve: "The Caucasian Knot has reported that today the activists Sofia Rusova and Atsamaz Khadikov have held solo pickets at the building hosting the Eighth International Environmental Forum, in protest against the activities of the Electrozink Factory and the construction of a resort in the territory of the Caucasian Reserve. At first, the guards tried to tear up the picketers’ posters. A journalist Maxim Rumyantsev how was at the place of the incident, called the police, stating that Rusova 'had used violence' against him. According to Sofia, he tried to grab the poster [that read] 'No to construction of ski resorts in the territory of the Caucasian Reserve!' "

'EcoWatch achieves cancellation of fines at Adygea's SC,' Caucasian Knot, 17 May 2017
'ЭкоВахта добилась в Верховном суде Адыгеи отмены штрафов,' Кавказский Узел, 17 May 2017
'Person of the Week: Sofia Rusova,' Rights in Russia, 27 March 2017
'Russian MoJ puts "EcoWatch" on register of foreign agents,' Caucasian Knot, 16 September 2016
Ecological Watch of the North Caucasus, website