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Rights NGO Says It Receives No State Funding

Moscow, 19 November: The Russian movement For Human Rights has denied reports that it has received a state grant allocated from this year's budget for the support of civil society.

'Media reports to the effect that the all-Russia public movement For Human Rights has received a grant from the Russian Public Chamber are erroneous," reads a statement by the movement's leader, Lev Ponomarev.

In the document received by Interfax on Monday [19 November], Ponomarev says that this year his movement did not submit an application for a grant to the Public Chamber.

"Reports that a grant was given to us may have appeared because a R984,000 [about 40,000 dollars] grant was indeed given to an organization entitled For Human Rights, which is a Tula regional public organization, but is not a regional branch of our movement," the statement reads.

For its part, the Russian Memorial organization said that one of its regional organizations had received a state grant for the support of the civil sector this year.

The Ivanovo public historical-educational and human rights organization Memorial is one of 1,224 public organizations that won an open contest of projects as part of state support for NGOs.

"This is the only one of Memorial's 80 organizations to have received funding in the contest. Contrary to reports published by certain media outlets recently, neither the Russian, nor the international Memorial organizations, nor the scientific-information or human rights Memorial centres took part in the grants contest," the statement reads.

For her part, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alekseyeva told Interfax on Monday [19 November] that her organization has won a grant that will be used to fund operations of a public reception room offering legal assistance to people.

"We used to have this reception room, but several years ago we had to close it because of lack of funds. We are resuming its work as of 1 January 2009. This is a very important project for rendering legal assistance to our people, first of all on social issues," Alekseyeva said.

Earlier she said that she has a positive view of the fact that her organization received a state grant.

"The fact itself that human rights organizations will be funded is very positive. I am sick and tired of answering the question: 'Are you being paid by foreign foundations?'. Now I will say that we are paid the money allocated by the Russian state too," she said.

Earlier, the Memorial organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, the movement For Human Rights, the youth movement Nashi and the Russian Red Cross were named by Public Chamber representatives among the winners of the contest to receive the state budget funds.

Under the Russian president's instruction, a sum of R1,250m [50m dollars at the current rate of exchange] was allotted in the federal budget in 2007 for state support of NGOs taking part in the development of civil society institutions.