Judgments in Russia: Memorial has to close Moscow headquarters


As of: 12/29/2021 1:59 p.m.

Just one day after the Russian Supreme Court decided to dissolve the human rights organization Memorial, the next judge’s verdict follows: The organization’s headquarters in Moscow must close.

It was only on Tuesday that the Russian Supreme Court decided to end the human rights organization Memorial, and further steps are already being taken: the organization’s headquarters in Moscow and its archives have to close.

This order is also based on a court order following an application by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. In mid-November, she also applied for Memorial to be dissolved. There were protests against the closure in front of the headquarters building.

Organization wants to challenge judgments

With the ruling on Wednesday, the judges saw it as proven that Memorial had violated the law applicable in Russia for so-called foreign agents. Organizations financed by foreign sources must identify themselves as such. The attorney general had accused the human rights defenders of failing to indicate in all publications that Memorial is classified as a “foreign agent”. She also accused the organization of being close to “extremism and terrorism” because of its commitment to political prisoners.

Memorial rejected all allegations and spoke of “political decisions” both after the verdict for the dissolution of its own organization and after the headquarters were ordered to be closed. Memorial wants to take action against both judges’ rulings and, if necessary, go to the European Court of Human Rights.

International criticism of Russia’s actions

Russia’s decision to force Memorial to dissolve had met with sharp international criticism. The Foreign Office said the verdict “contradicts international obligations to protect basic civil rights, which Russia has also entered into”. It withdrew “the voice of victims of oppression and repression”. The EU and the US also condemned Russia’s actions.

Now the International Auschwitz Committee joined the criticism. However, its Vice President Christoph Heubner emphasized:

The attempt by the Russian authorities to turn back time and destroy the idea and work of Memorial will not succeed.

Memorial as a “moral authority”

Memorial has become a moral authority beyond Russia, “highlighting the crimes of the Stalinist purges and restoring hope and dignity to many victims and their families,” Heubner said.

Memorial was founded in the Soviet times, in 1988. The organization works to come to terms with political persecution and the Stalin terror in the Soviet Union and to rehabilitate those affected. In addition, its members are committed to safeguarding human rights, for example on the Crimea peninsula, which has been annexed by Russia, or in the North Caucasus.


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