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Foreign Agents Trial Against Side by Side Adjourned Until Prosecutor Issues Documentation as to Why Checks were Launched Against Festival.

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On Friday, 24th May, 2013 Side by Side LGBT Film Festival began to contest allegations drawn up by the prosecutor accusing the organization of violating Article 19.34 of the administrative code relating to the conduct of non-commercial organizations and their status as foreign agents.

The trial held at the local magistrates court, No 206 (14 Kazanskaya Street) was in session from 15.30 18.00. This was first foreign agents hearing in Saint Petersburg and in the region of 30 people: human rights defenders, civil society activists, representatives from the local Ombudsmen for Human Rights, came out in a show of support for the festival. At the beginning of the session the public was however denied access and lawyers Dmitry Bartenev and Sergey Golubok demanded from the judge Oleg Camaldinov to allow spectators into the court. After 30 minutes of discussion 9 people: festival organizers, lawyers and journalists were permitted access. The remaining were left outside getting updates via telephone messaging.

Lawyers opened the case insisting on an immediate adjournment firstly, due to the inability of the court to ensure transparency as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation and secondly, due to the fact that the case being brought to court by the prosecutor on unfounded grounds and violations cited outside the requirements of the law. Both requests were denied by the judge.

Having gone through the evidence presented judge Camaldinov agreed with lawyers that it was necessary for the Prosecutor's Office to present legal documentation stipulating as to why the festival underwent checks. The Prosecutor has been given 2 weeks to present the requested documentation. 

The case has been adjourned and following a hearing will held at 14.00 on 6 June, 2013.

Lawyer Dmitry Bartenev commenting on the days proceedings: "We are pleased that the judge has given us the opportunity to check the legitimacy of checks launched by the Prosecutor's Office. At present there is no legal grounding for the checks against Side by Side LGBT film festival  and therefore the case should be dismissed."

Manny de Guerre
Side by Side LGBT International Film Festival
manny@bok-o-bok.ru
el: +7.812.313.9341 
Mob+7.911.710.2702 

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