On Thursday, November 25, the Supreme Court of Russia began consideration of the claim of the Prosecutor General’s Office against the public organization Memorial International Historical, Educational, Charitable and Human Rights Society, which was entered by the authorities in the register of so-called “foreign agents.” The Prosecutor General’s Office claims that Memorial has systematically violated the law on “foreign agents” by not affixing appropriate markings to its materials and is demanding that the organization be liquidated.
Human rights activists, in turn, believe that the lawsuit of the Prosecutor General’s Office is based on a political decision to destroy the Memorial Society, an organization dealing with the history of political repression and the protection of human rights. “We have repeatedly stated that the law was originally conceived as a tool for reprisals against independent organizations, and insisted that it should be abolished,” the Memorial stressed earlier.
Almost 30-year history of “Memorial”
The organization was founded in 1992 in Moscow. It was preceded by the Moscow public group Memorial, which emerged in 1987 and gave rise to a number of regional organizations and groups. In 1989, they all united into the All-Union Historical and Educational Society “Memorial”. Academician Andrei Sakharov was one of the organizers and the first honorary chairman of the Memorial Society.
“International Memorial” was included in the register of NGOs – “foreign agents” in 2016. For several years, the organization has been repeatedly fined by the courts in the Russian Federation for violations of the law on foreign agents, reminds Interfax.
Appeals in support of Memorial
The Council of Europe, leading European politicians, including German ones, ambassadors of the European Union states and many others have already come out in support of Memorial and with an appeal to the Russian authorities not to liquidate this organization.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier strongly condemned the actions of the Russian authorities. “We are shocked by the threat of closure of Memorial, an authoritative organization of high merit, by openly criminalizing its valuable work of reconciliation and research,” Steinmeier said in Berlin on November 22. He stressed that such a situation cannot remain without sharp criticism from the West.
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic warned that the dissolution of the organization would have “serious negative consequences for the entire civil society and the protection of human rights in the country.” Memorial is one of the oldest and most prominent human rights groups in Russia and a symbol of the tireless struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights in the post-Soviet space and beyond, “Mijatovich emphasized.