Staatsanwältin am 1. Tag der HauptverhandlungOn Tuesday, July 8, 2014 the first day of the public hearings in the case against Humanistic Youth Movement (GDM) took place in Murmansk. JANUN again published a media statement on the issue. A short video report on the trial has been published by a Russian TV channel (though only in Russian).

We already reported that with this case against GDM maybe for the very first time between all the processes undertaken against Russian NGOs as „foreign agents“, there could be reason for optimism as for the first time the Russian Ministry of Justice as the responsible authority disagreed with the classification as „foreign agent“. Unfortunately, after Tuesday’s hearing less confidence seems appropriate, because although the judge herself called the main evidence of the prosecution – a disputed linguistic expertise interpreting exclamation marks and demands for „rights“ and „freedoms“ as a threat to the Russian Federation – questionable, there was no acquittal.

Persecution and defense presented their positions with the persecutor insisting on their stance GDM acted as a „foreign agent“, despite the objecting statement of the Ministry of Justice and their own announcement in the preliminary court session of June 16 to reconsider their position.

The persecution had not complied with the court’s request to summon the linguistic expert as a witness, who had prepared the expertise commissioned by the „Center against extremism“ (one of the Russian political law enforcement agencies). They would have problems to find the expert. After hostilities in „vKontakte“ (Russian version of Facebook) she skipped Murmansk, and police wouldn‘t know where she were now. This doesn‘t sound convincing, particularly as everyone is curious to get an explanation of her quite creative, scientifically wrapped interpretations. Approached concerning the expertise the prosecutor always only gave evasive answers – she wouldn‘t be an expert and couldn‘t tell why three exclamation marks in the slogan „Freedom!!!“ should be a call to violently change the constitutional order. Therefor she commissioned the expert and just relied on their conclusions.

Judge and persecutor appeared (and left the court room) always together, and obviously exchanged on the process strategy. After the ruinous statement of the Ministry of Justice, after the judge’s statement the expertise was questionable and after the prosecution showing incompetence to summon the expert – and following an announced interruption of the meeting for the court having a counseling – it could be assumed that now a judgement (hoping for acquittal) would be made. Nevertheless, only the extension of the the trial was announced. The court had decided to need an additional expertise – after the one of the prosecution and the scientific counter-expertise of the defense. Therein a „psychological-linguistic“ examination should take place. What exactly this should be wasn‘t really clear – supposably a psychological interpretation of the texts in the „Youth Human Rights newspaper“ of the Humanistic Youth Movement to guess the authors‘ motives. Weird, why they didn‘t simply summon them as witness and directly ask.

However, the 2nd day of the public hearings will take place already on Friday, July 11 at 3 PM Moscow Time. There the framework for the expertise should be discussed – questions and contractor. On the first day of the hearings the defense had criticized the one-sidedness of the earlier expertise, and the sense of a third examination was questioned, especially as in the case of conviction GDM would have to cover those costs and hardly could afford that.

It seems the judge is looking for any possible reason to convict GDM. Otherwise, it could be interpreted positively, too, that she didn‘t dare to make a conviction on the current evidence. Thus, it could turn towards any direction – an acquittance is still imaginable, though a conviction again became more likely. The stance of the judge, however, is currently hard to assess.

The solidarity goes on! – The call for solidarity can still be supported – we online collect further organizations and groups willing to sign it. Thus, you can still show your solidarity with your group name. For that, please write an e-mail to „soli-kampagne [ätt]“. The call-out is available in English at: