Repression in Russia: Murmansk humanists - foreign agents?

Since some years activists in Russia are faced to harsh repression by Russian authorities. With the "foreign agent" and "extremism" laws tools have been implemented to oppress and eliminate organizations and movements being critical towards the state, but also any of those somehow disturbing the political powers. In this context legal organizations de facto get banned should they be categorized as "foreign agents", because a continuation of their work under these conditions is almost impossible. With vague accusations even individuals expressing criticism are threatened with perennial imprisonment and virtually vanish into thin air. Environmental and human rights groups as well as any progressive organizations shall be stigmatized as spies and discredited publicly.


This article covers the recently notified "foreign agent" accusation against the Murmansk human rights organization "Humanistic Youth Movement" (GDM).


On request of Murmansk FSB (Russian secret service, formerly KGB), the Pervomaysky district prosecutor's office conducted an audit of the regional organization "Humanistic Youth Movement" (GDM - Гуманистическое движение молодежи). As a result, GDM was charged for not registering as a NGO functioning as a foreign agent with the aim to force them into registration.


The charge is largely based on GDM's involvement in the project "Youth Human Rights newspaper". According to a linguistic 'expert' it is full of hidden messages and calls to violently change the constitutional order, damages the integrity of the Russian Federation, and articles on torture and inhuman treatment defame the public image of police. The linguist further claimed that "... 'Humanistic Youth Movement' is a foreign agent".


GDM conducts educational work in different fields; festivals; and a summer academy on self-organized education. The organization never organized public activities like rallies or pickets. The best known projects initiated or supported by GDM are the 'Dialogue of cultures' festival, 'Days of German Cinema' and the school exhibition 'Anne Frank. Lessons of history'.

The objectives of GDM are:

  • formation of humanistic moral values in youth;
  • promotion of the active citizenship of young people, human rights enlightment and youth education;
  • raising the public role and social importance of youth;
  • development of the mutual understanding between young people from different countries; and
  • education for national tolerance, freedom and individual rights, other world-views and lifestyles.


GDM considers critical thinking and the dissemination of information on human rights to be important. Organizations advocating for human rights have been one of the main targets of the 'foreign agents' law.


The trial date is June 16, 2014 at 10.30 AM.


Further information: Solidarity campaign for Russian activists

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This is the cover of the human rights newspaper used by the FSB expertise as evidence to call "to violently change the constitutional order" and "damages the integrity of the Russian Federation". This graphic is a satiric examination of human rights.


The slogan in the front is "Freedom!!!".

The following banners in the picture say: "Robot is equal to other robot", "No rising of machine oil prices", "R2D2 + C-3PO = LOVE. For legalization of interdroide marriages", "I'm robot, not a propaganda", "Robot is also human", "Cyborg is not worse than android", "Stop Robophobia", "Get moonwalker back", "Artificial intellect - Natural rights", "Guarantee quality of microchips"

Today the first day of the trial against GDM took place in Murmansk, and was interrupted already after a short time. The reason: The Ministry of Justice (actually responsible for the registration of NGOs labelled as "Foreign Agent") disagreed with the claim of FSB and prosecutors that GDM would act as a "Foreign Agent". Thereupon the prosecutor asked for postponing the trial to update their process strategy.

According to a Russian human rights observer it is the first case the Ministry of Justice took such a stance in a trial to enforce an NGO to be labelled "Foreign Agent".

The next day of trial will take place on July 8, 2014 at 3.30 PM at the Murmansk District Court, Lenin Prospect 2. The trial is public.

Since today a solidarity internet page provides background information, cases of concerned NGOs, media coverage and opportunities for support: