Sova Centre: Misuse of Anti-Extremism in November 2017

posted 18 Dec 2017, 08:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Dec 2017, 08:10 ]
15 December 2017  

The following is our review of the primary and most representative events in the misuse of Russia’s anti-extremist legislation in November 2017. 


On November 14, a plenary meeting of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation adopted a resolution that clarified certain aspects of the legislation on protecting the interests of children when resolving related disputes. In particular, the Supreme Court expanded the list of acts seen as falling within the definition of “abuse of parental rights” and can be used as the grounds for termination of parental rights under the Family Code. The Supreme Court recommends adding to the list such acts as involving children “in activities of a public or religious association or other organization, with respect to which an enforceable court decision on its liquidation or prohibition of activities has been issued (Article 9 of Federal Law No. 114- FZ “On Combating Extremist Activity” of July 25, 2002; Article 24 of the Federal Law No. 35-FZ of March 6, 2006 “On Counteraction to Terrorism”). Notably, the concept of “involving children in activities of the organization” is not defined in the legislation, providing opportunities for its expansive interpretation by law enforcement agencies and courts. In addition, the Supreme Court failed even to indicate that termination of parental rights should be preceded by a court conviction for involving a child in the activities of a banned organization. Thus, believers and political activists find themselves in a situation, in which they are facing not only potential inappropriate criminal charges for being involved in banned organizations, but also the threat of their children being removed from the family for no valid reason. We would like to remind that, in our opinion, a number of religious associations and organizations of a political nature are prohibited in Russia inappropriately. Even if the courts refrain from wide application of this Supreme Court decision in their practice, the very existence of such recommendations creates an additional “preventive” instrument for exerting pressure on citizens and pushing them to abandon the beliefs, which the authorities find objectionable, or to give up their protest activity. [Read more]