Robert Skidelsky
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Parliament

Moscow School of Civic Education appeals ‘foreign agent’ ruling
Robert Skidelsky
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

 
The Moscow School of Political Studies (recently renamed The Moscow School of Civic Education) is 21 years old. In 2003, it received the following message:
 
"Dear Friends,
 
I congratulate you all on the 10th anniversary of the Moscow School of Political Studies.
 
The School is well known in Russia and abroad for its active work in the promotion of civil society, and as a forum which brings together young politicians, journalists and businessmen from the very different regions of Russia. Here in the School these young people have the opportunity to listen to world-class experts, and to engage in free-ranging discussion with them about the most pressing problems of political and economic life.
 
All who participate in the School’s programmes acquire not only knowledge, but new and reliable friends as well. Today the school is a centre for mutual enlightenment, for strengthening the values of democracy and public service, for nourishing respect for the law, and for developing new ideas. I wish the staff and alumni of the School the best of health and prosperity, and look forward to the further successful development of the School itself."
 
Signed Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, 31 October 2003.
 
In December 2014, the School was declared to be a ‘foreign agent’ by the Russian Ministry of Justice, in pursuance of a law enacted on July 2012, which claimed to regulate – in effect, to suppress - NGOs in receipt of foreign funds.
 
The appeal against this decision, on 9 December 2014, was signed by Lena Nemirovskaya, the School’s founder and president, and her husband Yuri Senokossov:
 
"The decision, to judge The Moscow School of Civic Education to be a foreign agent, we believe to be without foundation.
 
We wish to present our objections to the judgment at a court hearing.
 
We believe that civic, historical and legal education for Russian
citizens is an overriding priority for our country; it is a necessary
condition for its further democratisation, and for its economic prosperity.
 
This education has been the entire aim and purpose of the Moscow School for more than 20 years.
 
It has been the central project of our working lives: we will make every possible effort to continue our activities.
 
Founders of the Moscow School of Civic Education
 
Elena Nemirovskaya
Yury Senokossov"
 
In Russia it is almost unknown for appeals against a judicial ruling to succeed.
 
The question I ask is: how did someone who wrote as President Putin did of the School in 2003 endorse a law on foreign agents which is certain to jeopardise the School’s continuation?
 
As a long-standing supporter of the School, and contributor to its work, I can testify that it is not the School which has changed.
 
Robert Skidelsky
 
 
 
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