Memorial disbanded: “A very bad signal”

Status: December 28, 2021 5:23 p.m.

For more than 30 years, the Russian organization Memorial has been campaigning for the politically persecuted and for coming to terms with the Soviet era. That bothers the Kremlin. A court has now decided to dissolve it, but Memorial wants to fight back.

By Martha Wilczynski, ARD Studio Moscow

Not an hour after the Supreme Court had withdrawn to Moscow for consultations, the judge read out the verdict of many already expected: the request of prosecutors will agree, “Memorial International” liquidated – including its regional branches and other structural offshoots. Less than two minutes it took the verdict.

Martha Wilczynski
ARD studio Moscow

“Very sad, very depressing”

For Memorial attorney Marija Ejsmont, it was the predictable finale of the trial. “It’s very sad, very depressing what happened today,” she said. “As of today, an organization is being dissolved that has been giving people back their names, their dignity for decades. People who were killed, destroyed and betrayed by their own state. Memorial takes their fates from the archives, their names are read out. One such Dissolving the organization is of course a very bad signal. “

Similarly, see the 50 supporters and supporters who gathered in the morning outside the courthouse. Memorial was the only organization to which could call she had said Iraida Sergeevna: “I wanted to know what my relatives long ago happened, and only memorial has helped me, no one else – no matter where I’ve asked. “

Allegation: support from abroad

For three decades now, Memorial has dealt with coming to terms with the Soviet era and, above all, the Stalinist terror, making it one of the most renowned and oldest human rights organizations in Russia.

In his plea, Attorney General Alexej Zhyafarow accused Memorial of painting a false image of the Soviet Union through this very activity and of trying to force the victorious nation of World War II to be ashamed of its history. “It’s because someone pays for it – and that’s the real reason Memorial fights so hard against being openly labeled a foreign agent.”

Because that’s what the prosecution was actually about: Because Memorial receives money from abroad – including from foundations and research institutes – it was added to the register of “Foreign Agents” in 2016. A status that the organization must provide information about in each of its publications – also retrospectively.

Memorial wants to appeal

That this was missed in some places, even the employees of Memorial admit. but that it should be the reason for the closure of the organization, say above all something about the state of Russian rule of law, Critics, and opposition politician Grigory Yavlinsky.

“That is an absolutely political decision,” says Jawlinsky. “The elimination of opponents of the opposition, of all those who try to strengthen Russia’s reputation by explaining its history. I believe that this is a critical step totalitarian on the way from today’s authoritarian regime to a modern one.”

Memorial members and supporters do not want to give up yet. Lawyer Genri Resnik said they would appeal and exhaust all legal options. This also includes a lawsuit before the European Court of Human Rights.

Judgment against Memorial

Martha Wilczynski, ARD Moscow, December 28, 2021 4:38 p.m.

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