The reasons are unknown: how the independent union of journalists ended up under liquidation

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The reasons are unknown: how the independent union of journalists ended up under liquidation
The reasons are unknown: how the independent union of journalists ended up under liquidation
12 July, 10:26PoliticsPhoto: profjur.org
The prosecutor of Moscow asks to liquidate the interregional independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers. The Moscow City Court had previously suspended the activities of this public organization.

It is not known for certain what the professional union association and (or) its members are accused of - they do not allow to get acknowledged with the materials of the case, they explain in the trade union.

Julia Suntsova

The Moscow prosecutor's office asks the Moscow City Court to liquidate the interregional public organization "Union of Journalists and Media Workers", follows from the ruling of the court of June 16 on accepting the administrative case on the liquidation of the organization. The reasons for applying to the court of the supervisory authority are not indicated in the document.

In the second ruling of the court dated July 4, the Moscow Prosecutor's Office petitions for the application of an interim measure in the form of suspension of its activities against the professional union until a decision is made on the merits. At the same time, in the petition of the prosecutor's office, it is specified that the measure is being taken in connection with the initiation of an administrative case under Part 1 of Art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the RF Armed Forces).

The reason for the prosecutor’s reaction was “the publication on the website of the organization of a publication containing unreliable information about the course of a special military operation to protect the DPR and LPR, aimed at discrediting the use of the Russian Armed Forces”.

“The professional union and its territorial organizations use information resources on the Internet, which contain information of an illegal nature. Thus, the activity of the professional union entails a violation of the rights and freedoms of a person and a citizen, causing harm to public order and public security, society and the state”, - the position of the prosecutor's office is stated in the court ruling.

Lawyer Maksim Krupsky, who represents the interests of the independent trade union in court, confirmed to NI that the Moscow City Court was beginning to consider an administrative case filed by the Moscow prosecutor to liquidate the Trade Union of Journalists and Mass Media Workers. Preliminary hearings are scheduled for July 13. The lawsuit was filed with the Moscow City Court on June 10, 2022.

- The grounds for the claim are unknown, since so far we have not been given the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the case materials, although pre-trial preparations have already been scheduled for July 13. We have not yet received a copy of the claim and materials, although the law requires that they be sent on a mandatory basis and in a timely manner. Compliance with this procedure is necessary to exercise the defendant's right to defense, lawyer Maxim Krupsky comments.

A week earlier, on July 4, the Moscow City Court, at the request of the prosecutor, took the so-called measures of preliminary protection and decided to suspend the activities of the professional union. In substantiating his demand, the prosecutor pointed out that the trade union was posting some illegal information on the Internet.

The trade union intends to appeal against the decision to suspend its activities, the defender notes.

From the court decision to suspend the activities of the “Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers” it became known that an administrative offense case had already been initiated against the trade union under Part 1 of Art. 20.3.3. Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation.

At the same time, the trade union was not informed either about the lawsuit or about the initiation of an administrative case.

"We do not know what kind of publication we are talking about, since we were not informed about the fact of initiating a case on an administrative offense. No one was called to draw up the protocol, no opportunity was given to get acquainted with the case materials. Whether the administrative case has been taken to court is also unknown", - says Krupsky.

"NI" tried to contact the current members of the professional union, but received no answers from them. Most of those with whom the correspondent tried to get in touch did not appear on social networks available in the Russian Federation for more than a week.

An editorial source in the Professional Union of Journalists and Mass Media Workers said that the prosecution's claims could arise not only against the union as a legal entity, but also against individual individuals - members of this union.

On the recommendation of the legal department, chairmen and members of the professional union have so far refrained from commenting to the press.

"Commenting can be considered by the court as a continuation of the activity, as well as maintaining the site and social networks, including personal ones. Unfortunately. I want to say a lot of things, but, at least, before getting acquainted with the full claims, the position is this. The ruling of the court does not specify exactly what kind of disseminated information the prosecutors considered illegal, so we are waiting for clarity, which, we hope, will be made at the first court session”, - the source of NI reports.

The professional union of journalists and media workers was created by a group of journalists in March 2016, at the end of 2017 it was officially registered by the Ministry of Justice.

The association arose as a reaction to the attack on a bus with journalists and human rights activists on the border of Chechnya and Ingushetia on March 9, 2016.

“On that day, masked men beat the driver and passengers, burned the car, and stole all the equipment. Russian journalists Yegor Skovoroda, Aleksandrina Elagina , freelance photographers Anton Prusakov and Mikhail Solunin, as well as Sveriges Radio correspondent Maria Persson Löfgren and Norwegian Fagbladet journalist Øystein Windstad were injured. Some of them were seriously injured, not to mention psychological trauma and post-traumatic disorders”, - the union's website says.

There was no proper reaction to the incident from the official professional union association represented by the Union of Journalists of the Russian Federation.

Since the founding of the public organization, more than 600 people from about 40 regions of Russia have become members of the professional union (data for the spring of 2020). Most of them are media workers. In total, 11 regional branches are registered in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Khabarovsk Territory, Pskov, Nizhny Novgorod, Saratov, Tomsk, Tyumen regions, in the republics of Komi, Bashkortostan and Khakassia.

The professional union of journalists and media workers is a member of the International (IFJ) and European (EFJ) Federations of Journalists. The Union of Journalists of Russia is also a member of the IFJ.

On May 16, the association issued a release, from which it became known that the prosecutor's check of the Professional Union of Journalists and Media Workers had begun, which was supposed to last a month.

The report emphasizes that the independent organization is being checked "for compliance with the requirements of the legislation on public associations, professional unions and information". The corresponding notification was received by the co-chairs Sofya Rusova and Igor Yasin on May 13.

The inspection will take place from May 16 to June 16. Dmitry Stupkin and two of his subordinates were entrusted with carrying out the activities, the head of the department for supervision over the implementation of laws on federal security, interethnic relations, countering extremism and terrorism, and two of his subordinates.

In addition to financial and economic reporting, statutory documents and minutes of congresses and meetings, the prosecutor's office requested information on fifteen points, including data on ongoing events, texts of speeches by participants in professional events and information about speeches of professional union representatives in the media.

The organization did not receive the results of the audit.

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