Russian human rights activist living in exile in France

29 January 2016

Nadezhda Kutepova, founder of the NGO Planet of Hopes, was recently forced to flee her home to live in Paris, where she now has asylum seeker status. She left Russia with her children in summer 2015, after she was accused of “industrial espionage” on a State television channel.

Planet of Hopes, one of EHRAC’s longstanding partners, was established by Kutepova to defend the rights of those affected by environmental disasters, and of those living in closed nuclear cities. In April 2015, Planet of Hopes was declared a ‘foreign agent’.[1]

Together with EHRAC, Nadezhda has lodged ten cases at the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of victims affected by the Mayak nuclear power station explosion in 1957.  In 2011, the Court upheld our challenge to Russia’s refusal to permit a former resident to permanently live in Ozersk, a closed town in Chelyabinsk Region where the Mayak nuclear fuel reprocessing plant is located.[2] In October 2015, the Court delivered its judgment in Gayeva v Russia, which concerned a widow’s right to receive social security payments.  Ms Gayeva’s husband was part of the clean-up operation at Mayak power plant and died from cancer aged 46. The European Court found two violations of the European Convention (the rights to a fair trial and to peaceful enjoyment of property). Sadly, Ms. Gayeva passed away before judgment was given, and her application was pursued by her daughter. Speaking after the judgment, Nadezhda told us:

“The most important thing has always been achieving justice for those who have suffered as a result of the Mayak disaster. This is an example of how important it is to keep fighting, even in the most seemingly hopeless situations.”

[1] Under the 2012 Foreign Agent Law, an NGO which receives foreign funding and is engaged in ‘political activity’, must register as a ‘foreign agent’, and is subject to significant reporting restrictions and regulations.

[2] In Karpachev and Karpacheva v Russia (No. 34861/04, 27 January 2011), the European Court held that Russia’s rejection of Mr Karpachev’s application for permanent residence in Ozersk breached his right to freedom to choose his own place of residence under Article 2 of Protocol No. 4.