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Human rights group ‘Memorial’ issues statement in support of U.S. activist ordered to leave Russia

Source: Memorial

The Memorial Human Rights Center has published a statement signed by more than 20 Russian activists, calling on the authorities to cancel their decision to expel American human rights lawyer Vanessa Kogan from the country.

On Wednesday, December 2, Kogan — the executive director of the human rights group Justice Initiative — told the newspaper Kommersant that the Russian Interior Ministry’s migration department had cancelled her residency permit issued in 2017. 

Kogan has lived in Russia legally for 11 years and her husband and children are Russian nationals. She applied for Russian citizenship in September 2020. “I went to the ‘Sakharovo’ migration center in Moscow to hear the decision. The staff informed me that not only was I denied citizenship, but that my residency permit had been cancelled and I had been given two weeks to leave the country,” Kogan told Kommersant. 

Kogan added that when she asked for the reason behind this decision, she was told that she posed “a threat to the security of the Russian Federation.” “I was told verbally that my candidacy wasn’t approved by the FSB,” she explained.

Justice Initiative spokesperson Ksenia Babich told Interfax that the decision regarding Kogan’s residency in Russia was made on the basis of the first subparagraph of Article 9 of the Federal Law “On the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation.” 

“This [paragraph] is about the fact that a residency permit previously issued in Russia can be annulled in the event that the person who received it ‘advocates for a violent change to the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, [and/or] by other actions creates a threat to the security of the Russian Federation or [its] citizens’,” Babich explained, adding that the decision will be appealed in the near future. 

The group of 20 human rights activists who signed the appeal published by Memorial includes the head of the movement Za Prava Cheloveka (For Human Rights), Lev Ponomarev; coordinator of the legal aid project OVD-Info, Alla Frolova; the head of the Committee Against Torture, Igor Kalyapin; and the co-chairs of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Vyacheslav Bakhmin and Valery Borshchev.

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