“Emergency legal assistance” for compatriots and an attack on the Pravfond

11:29 17.06.2024 •

The Foundation for Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad (Pravfond) will make every effort to protect them, including using international human rights structures and platforms, said the executive director of the fund, Alexander Udaltsov, speaking at a press conference at RIA Novosti. The statement was made in response to a provocation against the fund staged in the West.

Recently, a Russian citizen working in the local Russian community and collaborating with the Russian Foundation for the Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad was arrested in Denmark. She was charged ‘with collaborating with foreign intelligence.’ At the same time, as the Russian Foreign Ministry stated, Denmark did not provide any evidence of the illegal activities of the detained Russian woman. And at the same time, 13 of the largest publications in Western Europe published so-called ‘journalistic investigations’ regarding the Russian Foundation for the Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots.

The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, called this a “release” that was replicated by other publications. “Given the scale and coordination of this campaign, there is no doubt that this is not a “journalistic investigation,” but rather a provocation with the participation of the intelligence services of states unfriendly to Russia. What is the goal of this campaign? To discredit the Human Rights Fund, to intimidate its partners in Europe, to make it as difficult as possible to protect the rights and legitimate interests of compatriots,” she said in her speech during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

Head of the Fund for Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad (Pravfond), Alexander Udaltsov.
Photo: RIA Novosti

Alexander Udaltsov recalled that the fund was created by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation in 2011. Moreover, the initiators of its creation were the compatriots themselves, who made a request to the leadership under the influence of Russophobia, which was already being whipped up in the West.

“We are a unique structure – we deal with people, save them, rescue them from prisons, teach them legal literacy, win cases,” he noted.

The Foundation for the Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots is an independent, non-governmental, non-profit, socially oriented organization. And most importantly, outside Russia, its activities are carried out exclusively in accordance with the legislation of foreign countries and the international obligations of the Russian Federation. “The purpose and methods of the fund are based on absolutely legitimate principles and its work is completely transparent,” emphasized Alexander Udaltsov.

According to him, at least 30 million of our compatriots currently live abroad, and according to some data, this figure may be even higher – 50 million. It is clear that a sufficiently large number of them may require one or another legal support.

The main goal of the foundation’s activities is ‘to promote the provision of civil, political, social, economic, cultural and other rights and freedoms of compatriots, as well as their legitimate interests in their states of residence in accordance with international law.’

If in some country the rights of our people are not respected, then we cannot have normal relations with such a country,” explained the head of the foundation.

The current situation in the West, according to him, is characterized by the growth of Russophobia, large-scale anti-Russian information campaigns, openly hostile actions against Russia, discrimination and persecution of compatriots living in these countries. And the most difficult human rights situation with the rights of Russian compatriots is developing today in Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the USA, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

According to Alexander Udaltsov, the Baltic countries today have turned into police states. They are trying to intimidate their compatriots, force them to renounce any connection with Russia, deprive them of the right to use their native language and receive education in it. This is accompanied by the destruction of historical and cultural monuments associated with Russia and Soviet war memorials, infringement of religious rights, and attacks on the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church. People are subject to deportation and criminal prosecution as a warning to others.

As Udaltsov said, the Fund is taking additional steps to provide the necessary assistance to such compatriots. According to him, assistance will be expressed in various forms, depending on the specific situation. He also recalled that the President of Russia approved the proposal of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to increase funding for the Fund. Such financial support will expand the work of legal aid centers.

Today, there are 34 legal centers operating in 22 countries. Practically in open-door mode, professional lawyers receive compatriots there every day. As Alexander Udaltsov emphasized, all these centers are officially registered and have a license to provide legal services. In total, over 10 thousand free consultations were provided last year. Pre-trial assistance provided in 1850 cases against compatriots, 780 of which were decided in their favor. 8 out of 19 court cases were won.

“Legal assistance centers operate under agreements concluded with the Fund and are created by compatriots themselves. Now interest in opening new centers is growing – there are proposals to open eight more centers, including in Europe,” the head of the Right Fund said.

According to reports from employees of such legal assistance centers, today our compatriots in Western Europe face labor, social, cultural discrimination, threats to life and health, restrictions and prohibitions when receiving notary, lawyer, banking, medical, educational services, and blocking of personal accounts.

Now they are being supplemented by far-fetched accusations of the special services of ‘collaborating with foreign intelligence’ and ‘creating a threat to state security.’ Such accusations are used to initiate cases against compatriots. And there are dozens of such facts, Udaltsov noted.

“Our task is to protect the right of compatriots to a fair trial in any case when he is suspected or accused in his country of residence of some illegal actions,” he emphasized. “We are like an emergency legal aid,” Udaltsov added.

He also promised that the Foundation for the Support and Protection of Compatriots will make every effort to protect them, including using international human rights structures and platforms.


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