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Moscow Times
July 10, 2007
NGO Starts Liquidation Amid Probe
By David Nowak
Staff Writer

The Educated Media Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that works with the media, has decided to wind up its operations after a criminal probe that has left it unable to function.

Alexei Simonov, head of the Glasnost Defense Foundation and a co-founder of the NGO, has been appointed by Educated Media to oversee its liquidation. "There is no other way out, unfortunately," he said Monday.

Simonov's comments came moments after the Tverskoi District Court postponed indefinitely the hearing on a complaint lodged by the NGO's head, Manana Aslamazian, over a criminal investigation of the organization on suspicion of money laundering and illegal business activities. Aslamazian is out of the country and has vowed not to return until her name is cleared.

Simonov said his task was to arrange for contracts to be terminated and to help the NGO's staff find other work. Educated Media is operating with a skeleton staff of 12 people, he said.

But shutting down may not be so simple: To register the closure of an NGO officially, various documents must be submitted to registration officials, Simonov said. Educated Media had piles of documents and several computer hard drives confiscated in two raids by Interior Ministry officers earlier this year.

"They took away so many documents that it is impossible for the organization to die with dignity," Simonov said.