In Moscow, on Pushkinskaya Square, 12 people were detained for taking part in a series of single pickets in support of International Memorial and the Memorial Human Rights Center. This was announced on Saturday, November 20, by the OVD-Info human rights project.
Among those detained were activist Yury Samodurov and journalist of Novaya Gazeta Victoria Ivleva.
As Ivleva told Novaya Gazeta, she and Samodurov were taken to the paddy wagon after he handed her the poster and thus they both touched the poster.
We can talk about an administrative violation under the article “violation of the order of organizing or holding a meeting, meeting, demonstration, march or picketing,” the journalist suggested.
Some protesters stood up with placards on which slogans were written in support of political prisoners, in particular, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and against political repression. The detainees were taken to the Luzhniki and Khamovniki police stations. They were visited by lawyers from OVD-Info.
Authorities attack on Memorial
Memorial was founded in 1989 and deals with the analysis of political repression in the Soviet Union and the protection of human rights in modern Russia.
On November 11, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office applied to the Supreme Court with a demand to liquidate International Memorial for “systematic violations” of the law on “foreign agents”, in particular, for refusing to affix the appropriate marking.
At the same time, the Moscow prosecutor’s office filed a claim with the Moscow City Court to liquidate the Memorial human rights center. The motivation part of the claim stated that the materials of the center contain “linguistic and psychological signs of justifying the activities” of terrorist and extremist organizations. In addition, the center ignores the requirements for labeling “foreign agent”, according to the lawsuit of the Moscow prosecutor’s office.
Human rights activists believe that the main reason for the authorities’ claims to liquidate International Memorial and the Memorial center is the list of political prisoners that makes up the center.
Resonance in Russia and Europe
The authorities’ attack on Memorial provoked a strong reaction from human rights activists, politicians, journalists and historians in Russia and other countries.
In particular, on Thursday, November 18, the Nobel Prize winners, former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov, spoke out in support of the historical and educational society.
A collective statement in support of Memorial was signed by over 60 human rights defenders and public figures of Germany. They stressed that the liquidation of Memorial is a blow to European values. The signatories called on the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to immediately withdraw the claim to liquidate International Memorial and the Memorial Center, and the German and EU governments to do everything possible to protect Memorial, its employees and Russian civil society.
Council of Europe Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic called on Moscow to end the process of liquidating Memorial, calling the human rights organization a symbol of “the tireless struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights in the post-Soviet space and beyond.” According to Mijatovic, the dissolution of the organization will have “serious negative consequences for the entire civil society and the protection of human rights in the country.” UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor also spoke in support of human rights defenders.