The Sakharov Center in Moscow is currently facing unplanned inspections, with threats of closure or registration as a Foreign Agent in the air. Named after human rights activists and nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov, the Sakharov Center was set up in 1996 as a centre of public discussion and outreach programmes in Moscow. It contains a museum, archive materials on the Soviet 20th century, and frequently holds exhibitions, theatre performances, documentary film showings and public lectures on matters of historical, political and social interest.
If you care about what the Center does, please consider sharing this message from Lena Kaluzhskaya at the Sakharov Center. Alternatively, write to your representatives.
Sakharov Center Press Release
Dear friends and colleagues,
I would like to inform you that the Sakharov Center in Moscow very much needs your help. We know that everything is more or less clear when it comes to the Law on Foreign Agents. But when the law was the centre of attention, they just tried to scare us with it, and inspections didn’t harm us at all. Following the unscheduled inspection on 17 December, there is clearly a threat of closure or registration on the Foreign Agent list in the air.
On 4 December, the Sakharov Center received a notification on a document inspection from 12 December to 19 January by the Main Administration of the Ministry of Justice, Moscow. In addition, we also received a copy of an instruction that informs us that this inspection is being conducted ‘with the aim of checking information received on 1 December 2014 from an anonymous citizen.’
The last unplanned inspection at the Sakharov Center finished only in September, and didn’t give anything to the inspecting ministries. The Sakharov Center reaches out to the public and aids the conduct of free public discussion. We do not work for state institutions and, moreover, we do not participate in electoral campaigns. In this sense, our activities cannot be considered ‘political’. But there is a tendency in recent decisions taken by the Ministry of Justice (i.e. in relation to the Moscow School of Civil Enlightenment) to consider conversations about political problems a form of ‘political activity’. And accordingly, this is what threatens to brand us with a label that is incompatible with what we do. Registering as a foreign agent is tantamount to administrative stigmatisation and imprisonment in a virtual ghetto.
On the 25th anniversary of Andrei Sakharov’s death, the Sakharov Center’s registration as a Foreign Agent would symbolise the final break from the 25 year history of post-communist Russia. Of course, we won’t be saved by sob stories. But to disappear without a trace would be insulting. We would be very grateful to everyone who might write about us and our future.
Director of Discussion Programmes, Sakharov Center
To find out more: Please contact Lena Kaluzhskaya, or the Center’s Director, Sergei Lukashevsky.