Tuesday, February 27

Russian Justice orders the closure of the oldest human rights organization in the country

Russia’s Supreme Court has ordered the closure of Memorial, the country’s oldest human rights group, at a significant time in Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on independent thought.

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The court has ordered the closure of Memorial under controversial Russian law on “foreign agents”, which has targeted dozens of NGOs and media considered critical of the government.

Memorial was founded in the late 1980s to document the political repressions carried out during the Soviet Union, creating a database of victims of the Great Terror and the gulag. He has also become an important advocate for the cause of human rights in Russia.

In her ruling, Judge Alla Nazarova ordered the organization closed for “repeated” and “serious” violations of Russian laws on foreign agents, a designation that Memorial has described as politically motivated.

The ruling closes the “International Historical, Educational, Charitable and Human Rights Memorial Society, its regional branches and other structural units,” Nazarova said.

The Interfax news agency quotes a lawyer for Memorial as saying it would appeal the decision, both in Russia and at the European Court of Human Rights.

The Russian prosecutor described the organization as a geopolitical weapon used by foreign governments to deprive modern Russians of pride in the achievements of the Soviet Union. These arguments fit closely with the Kremlin’s view of history, in particular the sense that the Western allies have refused to give the Soviet Union its fair share for its role in defeating Germany in World War II.

“It is obvious that, by profiting from the issue of 20th century political retaliation, Memorial is falsely portraying the USSR as a terrorist state and whitewashing and vindicating Nazi criminals whose hands are stained with the blood of Soviet citizens.” said Alexei Zhafyarov, representative of the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office.

The daughter of Natalya Estemirova, a former member of Memorial’s board of directors who was assassinated in Chechnya for her human rights work in 2009, has reacted to the verdict: “My mother always used to say: ‘It can’t get worse than this.’ that it can “.