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Russia: Authorities move to close Memorial, one of the country’s most respected human rights groups

Reacting to news that Russian prosecutors have requested the judicial liquidation of the prominent human rights group International Memorial, and its sister organization Human Rights Centre Memorial, Marie Struthers, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International, said:

“The Russian authorities’ move to extinguish one of the oldest and most influential human rights groups in the country demonstrates their relentless determination to end all ongoing human rights work in Russia. By targeting Memorial and its mission to preserve the memory of victims of human rights violations during the Soviet era, the authorities believe they can simply erase the state’s past crimes against its own people from the history books forever.”

The Russian authorities’ move to extinguish one of the oldest and most influential human rights groups in the country demonstrates their relentless determination to end all ongoing human rights work in Russia

Marie Struthers, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International

“The Prosecutor General’s Office is claiming that, by not marking its publications with the toxic and stigmatizing ‘foreign agent’ label, International Memorial is in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, among others. This claim is absurd and unfounded as NGOs cannot actually violate international treaties, rather, states do. If the prosecutor’s office—and Russian authorities in general—indeed stood guard over these pillars of international human rights law, Russia would be a vastly different place today.

“The ‘foreign agents’ law is being weaponized to muzzle not only critics of the Kremlin but all independent voices entirely. By accusing Memorial of ‘glorifying terrorism and extremism’, the Prosecutor General’s Office betrays a level of cynicism that is beyond belief.

“The Russian authorities must immediately end the reprisals against Memorial and bring Russia’s legislation regulating associations in line with the international human rights law and standards, including by repealing the ‘foreign agents’ law.”

The Russian authorities must immediately end the reprisals against Memorial and bring Russia’s legislation regulating associations in line with the international human rights law and standards

Marie Struthers, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International

Background

On 11 November, it became known that three days earlier the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office had requested the Supreme Court to liquidate Memorial International. The next day, its sister organization, Memorial Human Rights Centre, announced that a similar move had been made against it by the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office.

The Supreme Court will consider the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office on 25 November. The date of the hearing in the Moscow City Court is not yet known.

Among the oldest and most respected human rights groups in Russia, the twin Memorial organizations started operating in 1988 during the wave of perestroika reforms. The Soviet dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov was the first chair of Memorial until his death in 1989.