About us

«Citizens’ Watch» is a human rights non-governmental organization. We help citizens to realize their right to a fair trial.

Our priorities are:

  • assistance to judicial reform (transparency of court decisions and administration of justice);
  • professional development of lawyers in defending rights of representatives of vulnerable groups at pre-trial stage and in court;
  • civilian oversight over the observance of human rights in pre-trial detention centers, correctional colonies, psychiatric hospitals, etc.;
  • countering xenophobia and intolerance;
  • monitoring human rights violations in St. Petersburg and informing the public about the observance of political and civil rights and freedoms;
  • human rights education;
  • legal assistance to victims of human rights violations.

Citizens’ Watch was established in 1992 by a group of human rights defenders and lawyers. At that time, our country announced that it would henceforth follow the democratic path, reaffirmed its human rights obligations, and the preparatory stage for Russia’s accession to the Council of Europe began. But the people who worked in the law enforcement agencies — the army, police and special services — had not changed. We wanted to help them reform and work in a new democratic environment with respect for human rights standards, and to establish mechanisms of public control to prevent them from violating the constitutional rights of citizens.

Over time, we realized that once Russia has an impartial and independent court, all other human rights problems will be solved sooner or later, so the main priority of our organization’s activities is to help create an independent court and assist citizens in accessing justice.

Boris Pustyntsev (1935–2014) was the Chairman of the organization from the day of its foundation until the end of his days. Since 2014, the Citizens’ Watch has been headed by Elena Shakhova.

Charter of the Organization