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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Memorial: Russia moves to close major human rights group


Russian prosecutors have filed a lawsuit to liquidate the country’s most prominent human rights group, Memorial.

According to the group, the Supreme Court informed it that prosecutors had requested that it be shut down for violating a law governing foreign agents.

According to the group, the move was politically motivated and lacked legal foundation.

Memorial is Russia’s oldest civil rights organisation, founded in the late 1980s by dissidents such as physicist Andrei Sakharov.

On November 25, the case will be heard.

It comes amid a broader crackdown in Russia on independent and dissenting voices.

This year, Memorial joins a growing list of investigative news outlets, journalists, and human rights organisations that have been labelled as foreign agents.

“We’re taken aback. This, on the other hand, is not surprising… In recent years, Russia has seen so many bizarre events that this hardly comes as a surprise “Oleg Orlov, a member of the Memorial board of directors, told Reuters.

“This is clearly a political decision made from on high in order to eliminate us. And this is a blow to civil society as a whole, as well as a serious warning sign for it.”

The Kremlin claims that the foreign agent law is justified because Russians have the right to know when human rights organisations and media outlets receive foreign funding to engage in what it considers political activity.

Memorial’s future has previously been jeopardised.

Because of the way its branches were registered, the justice ministry called for it to be “liquidated” in 2014.

A year later, the organisation was added to an official list of “foreign agents.” Its offices have been targeted numerous times across the country.

Memorial, founded near the end of the Soviet era, documents and commemorates the repressions of Soviet totalitarianism.

However, it also speaks out against current human rights violations and has chastised the government on issues such as the Russian-backed conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s growing list of political prisoners.

“Liquidating us does not mean that everything will come to a halt,” Mr Orlov explained.

“We’ll work from our apartments until we’re all imprisoned. But, of course, our work will become much, much more difficult.”

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