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Russian human rights organisation has won court case against government’s tax department

WECF network member Planet of Hopes acquitted of accusations

19.06.2009 |WECF Press Release




Utrecht/Ozersk, June 19, 2009 - Nadezhda Kutepova, chair of Russian NGO "Planet of Hopes" from Ozersk in the Russian Chelyabinsk area, was accused by the authorities of tax evasion, claiming that the small organisation owed one million roubles to the tax department. According to the charge, international donor money received for projects with pregnant women in nuclear contaminated areas, should have been regarded as profit liable for taxation.
 
The tax authorities took “Planet of Hopes" to court, and carried out intimidation activities against its director, by searching not only her house, but also visiting her son's kindergarten. Last week, the arbitrage court of Chelyabinsk has acquitted "Planet of Hopes" of the accusations by the tax department, which NGOs see as a great relief.
Nadezhda Kutepova is the director of the Russian NGO “The Planet of Hopes” based in Ozersk (former Chelyabinsk 65), which is part of a “closed administrative-territorial formation” (ZATO) – a so-called closed city. She works on environmental issues arising from the nuclear incident at the plant in Mayak in 1957. As a lawyer she also represents (together with European Human Rights Advocacy Centre - EHRAC) victims of this incident at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
 
Sascha Gabizon, Director of Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), says "it looks as a pure intimidation action of the government, who is not pleased to see that Russian victims, mostly women, of the nuclear industry are going to court, including the European Court of Human Rights, to try and obtain some compensation for their destroyed lives, - many of these victims are unable to work due to their health problems and they live in great poverty". WECF is a network, which supports women's organisations working for a healthy environment for all, and which has supported awareness and educational projects of "Planet of Hopes" with grants varying between 700,- and 1000,- Euros.
 
On 7 November 2008 her office was searched without a search warrant by policemen, alleging the NGO had not paid its taxes over what the department considers as "profits", namely foreign project grants, by - amongst others - the international network WECF. Similarly, policemen searched her home in January 2008, shortly after policemen came to her son’s kindergarten to inquire about her and her child. Nadezhda Kutepova feels intimidated by the Russian authorities and fears for her and her four children’s life.
 
WECF has called upon governments for the last couple of months to remind the Russian Government of its international obligations it has committed to, in particular, the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
 
Now, that Nadezhda and her organisation Planet of Hopes have won this court case, a wave of relief has spread among Russian non-governmental organisations working on human rights issues, such as the NGO AHORA from the city of Kazan which also had to defend itself before the arbitrage court, as they were afraid that a precedent would have been set, if the organisation had lost the court case.
 
WECF
Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) is a network of 100 women’s and environmental organisations in 40 countries. Our network spans Western Europe and the EECCA region; we have offices in France, Germany and the Netherlands. Our work concentrates on the women’s perspective of environmental issues, such as chemicals, energy, rural development as well as water and sanitation. Planet of Hopes is one of its members.
www.wecf.eu
----------------------------------------------------
Mrs Nadezhda Kutepova is available for interviews. Please contact WECF press officer Chantal van den Bossche at 00-31.6 2812 9992, E-mail chantal.vandenbossche@wecf.eu.
 
See for more information the articles on Planet of Hopes and Mrs Kutepova’s work:
WECF article “ The deadly face of nuclear energy”: http://www.wecf.eu/english/articles/2007/05/mayak.php
“Mayak" used 2,000 pregnant women in dangerous clean-up of nuclear
disaster: http://www.wecf.eu/english/articles/2006/11/planethopes.php
 
Utrecht, June 19, 2009
 

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