International, one of the most respected human rights organizations in the country, swept through three decades of work to expose the abuses and atrocities of the Stalinist era.
The court ruled that Memorial International had violated Russia’s “foreign agents” law. But the group said the real reason for the closure was that authorities did not approve their work. The ruling is the latest blow to Russia’s empty civil society organizations, which have gradually fallen victim to Putin’s authoritarian regime. Videos posted on social media showed Memorial supporters yelling.
Shame, shame!” in the corridors of the courthouse and at the entrance of the building shortly after sentencing. Seven people were detained outside the courthouse after the trial, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info. The organization said three of them are believed to be instigators whose sole aim was to wreak havoc, not to support Memorial.
Memorial International attorney Tatiana Glushkova confirmed the ruling to CNN and said the group would appeal the decision. “The real reason for the closure of Memorial is that the prosecutor’s office does not like Memorial’s work to rehabilitate victims of Soviet terror,” Glushkova told CNN. Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Office requested the liquidation of Memorial International in November.
The group was accused of repeatedly breaking the law for failing to mark all of its posts with a mandatory “foreign agent” warning. The Justice Ministry had designated the group as a foreign agent in 2016, using a law aimed at organizations that receive international funds. Representatives for Memorial argued that there were no legal grounds for the group’s closure, and critics say the government Russian targeted Memorial for political reasons.
Oleg Orlov, a member of the Memorial International board, said the court’s decision was “purely ideological” and “a demonstrative, flagrant and illegal decision. Supposedly, we do not evaluate the Soviet Union and Soviet history in the right way. But this is our evaluation, we have the right to do so,” Orlov told CNN. The group was founded in the late 1980s when the Soviet Union collapsed, and dedicated itself to studying and exposing Stalinist.
One of the group’s co-founders was the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov who became the first honorary president of the Memorial Society grave insult to the victims of the Russian Gulag International Memorial is a highly respected that has worked tirelessly to document the atrocities and political repression carried out under the government of Joseph Stalin and other Soviet leaders,” the human rights group said in a statement.