The NGO Memorial is in the sights of Russian justice. For the second time in two days, the Supreme Court ordered, this Wednesday, December 29, the closure of the structures of the main organization for the defense of the rights of the country, despite an international wave of indignation. The day before, the Supreme Court had banned its parent company, Memorial International, and its structures investigating the Soviet purges. The Memorial Human Rights Center was thus dissolved for violating a controversial human rights law. “foreign agents” and have made the apology of “terrorism” and of the“extremism”.
These decisions come at the end of a year marked by increasing repression of people, NGOs and media perceived as critics of President Vladimir Putin, in power for almost 22 years.
If Memorial is known throughout the world for its defense of human rights and opponents of Vladimir Putin, it has especially distinguished itself for its memory work on the Soviet period and in particular on the victims of the gulag. The NGO, founded in 1987 by a group of Soviet dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, has offices in France, Italy, the Czech Republic and Germany.
The Supreme Court ruled this morning to dissolve Memorial. As a reminder of our report on the oldest NGO in Russia 👇pic.twitter.com/nI4SeNQStd
— Tamara Alteresco (@tamaralt) December 28, 2021
Equipped with a network of archivists and historians, the NGO has drawn up a list of 3.5 million victims of Soviet repression since Stalin. She tracked them down, investigated their conditions of detention in the camps, told their story to tens of thousands of families. An inglorious Stalinist past, which Moscow is probably trying to erase.
In addition to the International Memorial and the Center for Human Rights, Russia has sixty local branches of the NGO, legally autonomous, which will continue their activities while waiting to be in turn the subject of legal proceedings. “Mémorial was organized as an association first and foremost to build a center for documentation and archives, where it was necessary to collect all the information possible on the history of the Soviet terror. “ explained Alexandre Tcherkassov, general manager of Memorial at Radio Canada.
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