[Filmfestivalresearch] Side by Side LGBT Film Festival Faces Prosecution under 'Foreign Agents' Law in Russia

Manny de Guerre manny at bok-o-bok.ru
Wed May 8 10:50:02 CEST 2013

PRESS RELEASE: 8th May, 2013


Side by Side LGBT Film Festival Faces Prosecution under 'Foreign Agents' Law
in Russia.


On 6th May, 2013, Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, received a ruling from
the local prosecutor accusing the organization of violating Article 19.7 of
the administrative code relating to the conduct of non-commercial
organizations and their status as 'foreign agents'. 


In recent weeks various organizations, Side by Side LGBT Film Festival
included, across the Russian Federation have been visited by officials from
the Ministry of Justice, tax inspectors and police as part of mass checks
into the activities of NGOs. On 21 March the Side by Side offices were paid
a visit with six officials from the Ministry of Justice and the police
arriving unexpectedly and presenting a three-page letter demanding the
submission of 24 separate items ranging from proof of the organization's
legal status, to all banking transactions and contracts over the last three
years. On 23 April the offices were paid yet another visit this time
demanding copies of films screened over the last five years, grant
applications and contracts and examples of all printed information
brochures. After a week-long analysis of the material the prosecutor decided
that Side by Side was in violation of the law on two accounts, firstly the
publication of a brochure: The Worldwide LGBT Movement: Local Practices to
Global Politics and secondly, participation in the social awareness
campaign: "Let's Stop the Homophobic Bill Together." 


The reasons presented by the prosecutor stipulating as to why Side by Side
is being taken to court is rife with mistakes notes festival organizer Gulya
Sultanova: "From the presentation of the document it is evident that the
prosecutor was in a hurry. Clearly, the document was put together quickly
and carelessly and there are glaring errors in regards to dates mentioned -
this is a very important moment. They are focusing on content and citing
activities that were made prior to 21 November, 2012 when the law concerning
'foreign agents' actually came into force. For example the campaign: "Let's
Stop the Homophobic Bill Together" was conducted in Saint Petersburg in
2011, way before this new legislation. If the Russian courts are independent
and there is the opportunity to listen to our case I am sure the verdict
will be in our favour. Our activities are for the good of society and we are
working for the citizens of Russia."


The organizers of Side by Side LGBT Film Festival take the position that the
legislation concerning 'foreign agents' is unconstitutional and is designed
to repress human rights organizations. The very idea of registering as
"foreign agents" is unlawful and contrary to the spirit of the law on NGOs.
This has been stated not only by human rights activists but also by the
Minister of Justice  for the Russian Federation Alexander Konovalov in
January, 2013.


The hearing will take place at the end of May 2013. Irregardless of the
outcome Side by Side LGBT Film Festival will not its valuable work and will
defend its case in court and if necessary take it to the European Court of
Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.  




Organizations also under prosecution:


LGBT Organization Coming Out (Saint Petersburg)

Memorial (Saint Petersburg)


Manny de Guerre

Side by Side LGBT International Film Festival

manny at bok-o-bok.ru 

Тel: +7.812.313.9341  


www.bok-o-bok.ru <http://www.bok-o-bok.ru/>   

 <http://shop.bok-o-bok.ru/> http://shop.bok-o-bok.ru






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