MacArthur has announced seven grants totaling $860,000 in support of human rights work in Russia.

The democratic possibilities need encouragement at this critical time in Russias transition, said Jonathan Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation.  Beneath the headlines of uncertain progress, local human rights groupsover 3,000 of them by some countsare taking root across Russias vast expanse.  Building a strong foundation for civil society counters tendencies to slip back into an authoritarian past.  MacArthur supports nongovernmental groups in 13 regions across Russia, and well as Moscow-based groups that bring them together into a vibrant network, exposing police abuse, defending freedom of expression, seeking fair treatment for women, and promoting the rule of law through the application of international standards to Russian reality.

Seven grants have been awarded to organizations working in regions across Russia on various human rights related matters.

  • The Nizhnii Novgorod Committee Against Torture received a grant of $270,000 over three years to help combat police torture in Russia. The Committee investigates citizen complaints of police brutality and provides courtroom advocacy on their behalf. A portion of funds from this grant will support a research project designed to provide, for the first time, a robust, empirically grounded analysis of the overall incidence of police torture in Russia.
  • A grant of $180,000 over three years was awarded to the Kazan Human Rights Center in the Russian region of Tatarstan for work to combat torture. Grant funds will be used to help broaden the geographic reach of the Centers efforts toward seeking redress for torture victims, and to build public awareness of police abuse.
  • Southern Wave Creative Union, in Russias Krasnodar region, received a grant of $105,000 over three years to expand a public forum wherein prominent speakers address human rights issues. The program will strengthen the public outreach of groups and individuals working on human rights concerns and help build a constituency for reform across government and civil society actors in a region facing a difficult human rights situation.
  • The Sutiazhnik Public Association, in Russias Sverdlovsk region, received a grant of $100,000 over two years to continue its human rights Internet Training Center. The Center provides legal expertise and training in human rights litigation to young lawyer-activists from Sverdlovsk and surrounding regions, helping improve their ability to bring cases to the European Court of Human Rights and apply European human rights standards in Russian courtroom practice.
  • The Moscow-based Center for the Promotion of International Defense received a grant of $180,000 over three years for a training program for Russian human rights lawyers from Moscow and the regions, designed to improve awareness and understanding of the European Court of Human Rights on the part of Russian human rights lawyers, and ensure better selection and preparation of cases to be brought to the European Court.
  • A grant of $75,000 over two years was awarded to the Novorossiisk City Charitable NGO in Russias Krasnodar region to monitor and help reduce hate speech in regional media. Grant funds will also be used to provide training for representatives of regional ethnic minorities on the legal means of combating xenophobia and human rights violations.
  • The Krasnodar-based Mothers in Defense of the Rights of Those Arrested, Under Investigation and Convicted received a grant of $50,000 over two years to help combat police abuse in the Krasnodar region. Grant funds will be used to support a 24-hour Center for Immediate Legal Assistance, which provides legal assistance on short notice to victims of police abuse.

Human Rights & International Justice, Human Rights, Russia