On September 7, a court considered an appeal against the liquidation of the Charitable Foundation Sphere. The board of the City Court, chaired by Judge Igor Chufistov, left unchanged the decision of the Kuibyshev District Court to close the organization and exclude it from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities. Thus, legally, the foundation will soon cease to exist.
The team of the Sphere Foundation is not going to stop its work, despite the upcoming exclusion from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities.
Head of the Sphere team, Dilya Gafurova, said this:
“Charitable Foundation Sphere” stands for more than 11 years of history and contribution of many highly talented people. Nobody could take that away from us. We see the situation with rights of the LGBT+ community in today’s Russia, with human rights in general, and we just cannot allow ourselves to stop our work, despite all the hardships concocted for us by the authorities. There might be no foundation as such, but Sphere’s team remains. And, surely, that’s our main asset. We stand with you.”
In the fall of 2021, the Department of the Ministry of Justice in St. Petersburg began an unscheduled audit of the fund. It began allegedly because of a citizen’s complaint about the organization’s support of the LGBT+ movement under the guise of charity. The Department requested all available documentation for the last 3 years of activity. During the inspection, Sphere provided the Ministry of Justice with more than 5 thousand sheets of various documents.
The report on the results of the audit states that, according to the Ministry of Justice, gross violations were committed in the activities of the fund. For example, reports on the fund’s activities were allegedly unavailable to the media, although they were published annually on our website and on the website of the Ministry of Justice.
After the inspection, Sphere challenged the violations listed in the act, presenting its objections. In response, only confirmation of receipt of objections was received from the Department. They were obviously not taken into account. Also, the Department did not send any instructions to the Sphere to eliminate the detected violations.
Instead, on February 4, the department appealed to the Kuibyshev District Court of St. Petersburg with a claim for the liquidation of the fund and at the same time for its exclusion from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities. On February 9, 2022, the judge of the Kuibyshev Court, Irina Vorobyova, left this lawsuit without motion. In her ruling, the judge asked to specify the grounds provided by law for the liquidation of the fund, as well as to comply with the requirements for a pre-trial procedure, that is, to send an order to the fund to provide an opportunity to eliminate the identified violations in the work.
The Department did not comply with the requirements of the court, but filed a private complaint against this definition. The St. Petersburg City Court, after the cancellation of Judge Vorobyova’s ruling on leaving the claim without motion, transferred the case to another judge of the Kuibyshev Court, Tatyana Kuzovkina.
On April 21, Judge Tatiana Kuzovkina ruled on the liquidation of the fund and the exclusion of the organization from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities. In the summer, we filed an appeal against this decision.