Russia’s Supreme Court today ordered the closure of Memorial International, the country’s oldest human rights organization, which has been documenting major crimes in the Soviet Union for more than three decades.
Judge Ella Nazarova announced that she was ordering the complete cessation of the activities of the Memorial Educational History Association and the dismantling of all its units. This is after it accepted the prosecution’s position that the organization violated the law prohibiting the activities of “foreign agents” and that it “created a misrepresentation of the USSR as a state of terror” and even “whitewashed and rehabilitated Nazi criminals.”
The ruling did not specify the motives for the decision, and Memorial announced that they intend to appeal the ruling and that they also intend to go to the European Court of Human Rights. “We see this decision as illegal and unfounded,” said attorney Maria Iismond. “This is an unfair decision that will hurt the country. It is a poor sign that our society and our country are moving in the wrong direction.”
Tomorrow, Moscow’s Moscow city court is set to rule on whether to accept the prosecution’s demand to close Memorial’s human rights center, which maintains a list of Russia’s political prisoners today, including Alexei Navalny. The prosecution accused the center of “justifying terrorist activities” since the list also includes members of banned religious organizations.
Memorial was founded in the late 1980s, when the Soviet Union began to disintegrate, and its first chairman was Andrei Sakharov, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and one of the most prominent opponents of the Soviet regime. Stalin will add.
The ruling against Memorial is one of the peaks in the repression led by President Vladimir Putin against opposition and human rights organizations in the country, especially this year, as part of his efforts to strengthen his control and change the image of the Soviet regime, 30 years after its collapse.
“With the closure of the organization, the Russian authorities are trampling on the memory of the millions of victims killed in the Gulag,” Amnesty International said. “The closure represents a direct attack on freedom of expression and freedom of association. The use of the ‘Foreign Agents’ Act to dismantle the organization is a blatant attack on civil society and an attempt to obscure the national memory of state oppression.”