12 september 2005
Prominent Russian human rights organisations including Memorial and The Moscow Helsinki Group, have collectively expressed their concern in a joint statement, over the seizure of funds by Russian tax authorities from the human rights organisation the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society
Russian Tax authorities (FTE) have demanded approximately 1,000,000 Roubles (approximately $35,000) in back taxes and fines for the alleged failure of the RCFS to pay tax on international grants. The FTE began forcefully withdrawing funds from the organization’s bank accounts on 26 August 2005, although the case is being appealed in arbitration court and no final decision has yet been made. Without these funds, which were raised through grants from the European Commission and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the organization will be forced to close.
Article 251 of the tax code of the Russian Federation states that tax free grants must be dedicated to “education, arts culture and environmental defence fields”. The deputy chief of tax inspection is arguing that the RCFS is using the subsidy for “publishing and diffusing publications”.