“The criminal charges brought against activist Valentina Cherevatenko, a leader in the NGO “Union of Women of Don”, represent the first criminal case opened under the “foreign agents” law in Russia,” – says the statement of the European External Action service.
“The practice of declaring NGOs as “foreign agents” restricts civil society and impedes the exercise of fundamental freedoms.”
“Ms Cherevatenko’s outstanding work on human rights education, peace building, and humanitarian issues is well-known and widely appreciated” – the EEAS statement concludes.
Valentina Cherevatenko is the chairwoman of the coordinating council of the Union “Women of the Don”, as well as the chairman of the Board of the Foundation for the Promotion of Civil Society “Women of the Don”. The Union of Women of the Don, whose goals coincide with the goals of the Foundation, carries out peacekeeping initiatives in the North Caucasus, seeking “dialogue and promoting the idea of tolerance for different strata of society,” and organizes social receptions where citizens are consulted on social and legal issues. In addition, the organization is actively involved in the protection of women’s rights in the region, focusing on violence against women and gender discrimination.
In Russia Cherevatenko came to public attention when brought bunch of flowers to Nadejda Savchenko in custody on the 8th of March International Women’s Day. The gesture was negatively perceived by Russian mass media, characterising it as ‘wreath to assassin”.
The chairman of the union “Women of the Don” Valentina Cherevatenko is accused of “malicious non-fulfillment” of the requirements of the law on foreign agents (Article 330.1 of the Criminal Code), Mediazone informs. This article foresees the punishment in the form of a fine of up to 300,000 rubles, correctional labor, or imprisonment for a period of two years.
“The investigation was conducted for a year. I do not admit my guilt absolutely. We defended ourselves and continue to defend ourselves. The cases are in the European Court,”- Cherevatenko said. She heads the coordinating council of the union “Women of the Don”, who collectively makes decisions, but the accusation is presented to her personally.
Union “Women of the Don” was included by the Russian Ministry of Justice in the register of foreign agents in 2014. Cherevatenko also heads the board of the same fund for the promotion of civil society and human rights, which was included in the register in 2015. The decisions were consistently appealed.