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Russian Authorities Cancel Residency Permit, Expel U.S. Rights Group Director

Vanessa Kogan
Vanessa Kogan

Russian authorities have annulled the residency permit of Vanessa Kogan, a U.S. citizen and the director of the well-known human rights group Stitching Justice Initiative.

The group's spokeswoman, Ksenia Babich, said on Facebook that Russia's Interior Ministry canceled Kogan’s residency permit on December 2.

Kogan, who has lived in Russia for 11 years, applied for a Russian passport but according to Babich was informed on December 2 that her application was rejected as she "poses a threat to the country's security."

Kogan, whose husband and children are Russian citizens, was ordered to leave Russia within two weeks.

The Netherlands-based Stitching Justice Initiative, known locally as Pravovaya Initsiativa, has been operating in Russia since 2000. The group has been involved in defending human rights in situations linked to armed conflicts, torture, and gender violence on the territory of the former Soviet Union.

The organization regularly represents victims' in the European Court of Human Rights and focuses on human rights situations in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region and the Russia-annexed Ukrainian Black Sea Crimean Peninsula.

In August, the Federal Security Service searched the Stitching Justice Initiative's offices in Moscow. Earlier in February, police searched offices of the group's partners in the North Caucasus region of Daghestan.

Babich said the Interior Minister's decision to cancel the residence permit will be appealed.