The Legal Information Centre for Human Rights

Profile: The Legal Information Centre for Human Rights

1- Name of NGO:

The Legal Information Centre for Human Rights

2- Brief & Mission:

The Legal Information Centre for Human Rights is an Estonia-based non-governmental organization that, according to Hanne-Margret Birckenbach, actively advocates for the rights and concerns of Russian-speaking residents. The organization is known for its strong connections to research institutes in Western Europe and is considered one of the prominent pro-Russian NGOs in Europe. The primary focus of this organization is to protect and advance Russian interests in its work. 

3- Bias, Agenda & Motivation:

The Baltic states have experienced greater levels of pressure from Russia compared to other European Union countries. In Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, a significant number of compatriot non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are believed to be under the control of Russian secret services. Alexei Semjonov, the director of the Legal Information Centre for Human Rights (LICHR), has been mentioned in this context.

According to recent information, Russia has made an unexpected decision to support Alexei Semyonov as a candidate for the 2009 European Parliament elections. While Semyonov is known to be a member of the Constitutional Party, he has not yet demonstrated his political abilities to the public. It is widely recognized that Alexei Semyonov maintains a strong allegiance to the Kremlin, and his activities and decisions are influenced by the desires of his financial supporters

4- Links to Governments/Political Agenda:

There are allegations that the NGO in question maintains undisclosed connections with Russian businessmen and government officials. These claims suggest the existence of backdoor links between the organization and these entities. It is further alleged that meetings between the NGO and Russian officials take place.

5- Sources of Funding:

According to the Baltic Centre for Investigative Journalism, over 40 NGOs in the Baltic states have reportedly received a total of at least €1.5 million from Russia. Among these recipients, the Legal Information Centre for Human Rights (LICHR) is the largest beneficiary. However, it is worth noting that the Estonian Internal Security Service has accused LICHR of having ties to Russian intelligence, thereby labeling it as a Russian agent.

6- Activities:

The centre has undertaken a project that received financial support from the Russkiy Mir Foundation. As part of this project, they published a book titled “Russian Schools of Estonia: Compendium of Materials.” The objective of the publication is to create favorable conditions for the preservation of the existing public system of Russian-language schools in Estonia. It is stated that the current system is a remnant of the Soviet era, during which the education system was segregated. Russian settlers attended separate nursery, primary, and secondary schools with distinct curricula, and instruction was conducted exclusively in Russian. In contrast, native residents attended public schools where instruction was provided in both Estonian and Russian. This indicates that the centre promotes a narrative that supports Russian interests within Europe.

7- NGO Leadership:

Alexei Semjonov, the director of LICHR, is known to be a figure with pro-Russian inclinations. 

8- Controversy:

In 2009, the Estonian Internal Security Service issued statements regarding the director of LICHR, Alexei Semjonov. These statements were evaluated by Amnesty International, which commented on them as follows:

In its report published in April, the Security Police board continued its efforts to discredit LICHR, an NGO dedicated to promoting and defending the rights of linguistic minorities. The report alleged that Alexei Semjonov, the director of LICHR, was associated with a pro-minority Constitutional party and would be a pro-Russia candidate in the 2009 European Parliamentary elections. Furthermore, it claimed that Semjonov engaged in activities funded and directed by the Russian authorities.

9- Contact Details:

  • Website:http://www.lichr.ee/
  • Address:Estonia
  • Email:  centre@lichr.ee

10- Classification/Blacklist:

The institution has been labeled as blacklisted because of its associations with the Pro-Russian stance. 

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