In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court of Tatarstan, a Russian republic about 600 miles east of Moscow, has liquidated the human rights association “Agora.” The group's lawyers say they intend to appeal the decision.
According to Agora's director, Pavel Chikov, the court fulfilled a request submitted by the Justice Ministry, which argued that the organization works to “influence public opinion.”
On Twitter, Chikov wrote, “Tatarstan's Supreme Court just liquidated Agora in a suit brought by the Justice Ministry. We're very proud to be the first [organization] liquidated by a court ruling.”
One of the group's lawyers told the news site Slon that the state offered “not a single argument” demonstrating that Agora threatens Russia's national security, its constitutional order, or the lives and safety of Russian citizens.
In a press release, Agora said it engages in no political activity, but was nonetheless blacklisted as a “foreign agent.” The organization also cites a decision by an arbitration court finding that it pursues a “generally useful purpose,” defending citizens' constitutional rights.
Agora was formed in 2005. The group brings together about 40 lawyers working criminal cases involving charges of extremism and police misconduct. In July 2014, Agora was one of the first organizations added to Russia's list of so-called “foreign agents.”