More Than $1.5 Million in Support of Human Rights in Russia
January 26, 2004 | Press Release | Human Rights

MacArthur has announced six grants totaling more than $1.5 million in support of six Moscow-based organizations that serve as network hubs for local and regional human rights work in 13 regions across Russia.

"Russia is undergoing an historic political and economic transition and the outcome will determine whether it joins the community of genuinely democratic nations," said Jonathan Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation. "So far the progress is uneven, but there are some hopeful signs. Across Russia, citizens have organized themselves to secure individual rights-rights guaranteed under the Russian constitution and by international law. Over a thousand groups now exit to confront police abuse, oppose discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, promote press freedoms, and monitor the judicial system. MacArthur is helping link these groups into a network equipped with modern technological tools to communicate with each other and international community. The growth of a vibrant civil society enhances the odds that democracy will take root."

The Moscow Helsinki Group was awarded a grant of $750,000 to help strengthen a network of regional human rights monitoring organizations in Russia. Grant support will be used to help gather data on human rights abuses and disseminate it to the Russian government, the media, and other interested groups internationally. Funds will also be used to help run legal assistance clinics in 26 regions across Russia and to help develop a network of regional coalitions of nongovernmental organizations working together on shared human rights related issues. The Helsinki Group was established in 1976 by a group of Soviet dissidents to monitor compliance of the Soviet state with its humanitarian commitments under the Helsinki Accords.

A grant of $300,000 was awarded to the All-Russia Public Movement for Human Rights to help coordinate strategies for combating human rights abuses in Russia. With grant support, the Movement will work with regional human rights groups on issues including legal reform, the rights of prisoners, the monitoring of the legislative process, and the defense of migrants and internally displaced persons. Action plans will be designed to carry out the most effective strategies for pressing for reform, and the work will culminate in a major national conference of human rights organizations. The Public Movement is an umbrella organization that unites grassroots human rights groups from 60 regions across Russia.

The PRIMA Human Rights News Agency received a grant of $180,000 to help disseminate human rights related news stories in the Russian and international media. PRIMA gathers stories through its network of correspondents in Russia and other Post-Soviet states and provides these stories to the general public through its website and an email subscription service. Articles are published in both Russian and English. PRIMA was established in 2000 to help bring attention to the human rights situation in Russia's regions.

A grant of $100,000 was awarded to the Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization Center for Information Research to help put a full collection of documents from the European Court for Human Rights onto a searchable Russian-language public website. The Center will use the technology already available through a university-based information system, which now houses social science research and education information. The electronic ECHR documents will be made available with Russian annotations and in full translation and can be searched using Russian-language terms. The Center for Information Research is an independent organization loosely associated with the Moscow State University.

Inter-Regional Foundation Association of Ombudsmen received a grant of $100,000 to help develop software for human rights ombudsmen in regions across Russia to track and archive complaints from citizens about human rights related incidents. This software will allow the offices of the ombudsmen from across Russia to use a similar system for recording human rights abuses in their regions. In systemizing their records, it will be easier to analyze the human rights situation in Russia's region and to determine the most effective method for combating offenses. The Association of Ombudsmen is a nongovernmental organization created to promote the institution of human rights ombudsmen in the country.

The Regional Public Organization Center for Interethnic Cooperation received a grant of $90,000 to help support the rights of ethnic minorities and migrants in the Russian regions. Grant support will be used to strengthen the Center's position as a hub providing training and other services to a network of ethnic minority nongovernmental organizations. With grant support, the leaders of these NGOs and representatives of local governments will be brought together for training on methods to combat discrimination against ethnic minorities and foreigners. Funds will also be used to work with the media on covering more minority rights issues and to promote the Center's website and Internet newspaper. The Regional Public Organization Center for Interethnic Cooperation is an NGO representing ethnic minorities that seeks to raise the profile of minority rights in Moscow and the Russian regions.

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