The dissolution of Memorial Human Rights Center ordered by the Russian justice this Wednesday provoked international condemnations, a day after the Supreme Court decided to ban the central structure of this emblematic organization.
“We deeply regret the decision of the Supreme Court to close Memorial International, and the Moscow court to close its sister organization., the Center for Human Rights, “said a spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights office to the agency AFP.
The United Nations pointed out that the decisions of the Russian justice to prohibit the recognized NGO “further weakens ”the human rights community in Russia.
After studying the request of the prosecution, Judge Mikhail Kazakov ordered the dissolution of the Memorial Center for Human Rights, which campaigns against rights abuses in present-day Russia and it has also testified to the history of the victims of Stalinism.
In a message on social media, the British Foreign Minister, Liz truss, spoke of the work of the NGO and He described the measures of the Russian justice system as a “terrifying blow” for freedom of expression.
For his part, European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Wednesday asked Russia to “suspend” the decision to dissolve Memorial so that the Court has time to examine the claim of the NGO, which will challenge the decision of the Russian justice.
On Tuesday, justice ordered the closure of Memorial International, the central structure that coordinates the organization’s network in Russia, and its regional antennas, arguing that it did not respect the obligations of its statute of “Foreign agent”.
This label, reminiscent of that of “enemy of the people” in times of the Soviet Union, is reserved for organizations with international funding allegedly acting against Russian interests.
The prosecution accused the Memorial Center for the Defense of Human Rights of advocating “terrorism and extremism” and violating the law on “foreign agents” by not qualifying themselves as such.
“Over the past three decades, all of our activities have been aimed at protecting the citizens of Russia and the interests of the Russian state.”, Alexander Sherkasov, director of the center, defended himself in court.
International experts and observers consider that the Russian authorities use the charges of extremism and terrorism to punish critics of Putin.
The prosecution added Tuesday that Memorial “creates a false image of the USSR as a terrorist state and denigrates the memory of World War II.”
The persecution against Memorial International, who enjoys great prestige in the West for his role as a chronicler of abuses in Russia since Soviet times, it aroused great outrage abroad.
The closure of this NGO “It shows the fear of the Russian government, which is no longer willing to tolerate an objective and honest control of its behavior, as Memorial did”, The executive director of the NGO Human Rights Watch said in a video statement, Kenneth roth.
On Tuesday, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, described the closing of Memorial as “persecution”, while the head of diplomacy of the European Union (EU), Josep Borrell, recalled that “critical views of his past are essential for the healthy development and progress of societies.”
These legal actions are framed in the climate of increasing repression against those perceived as adversaries of the Kremlin.
Head of Russia’s Banned Rights Group Says “No One Will Give Up”
The director of the Russian human rights group Memorial said on Wednesday that he and his colleagues will find a way to continue their work despite the two court decisions ordering them to close.
“The memory of people’s grandparents and great-grandparents is not so easily defeated”, Held Jan Raczynski In an interview.
Jan Raczynski, chairman of Memorial’s board of directors, told the agency Reuters in an interview at its Moscow headquarters that he would find a way to continue documenting the crimes of the Soviet era, such as Josef Stalin’s “Great Terror,” as well as the abuses of today.
“This (the crimes of the Soviet era) is an issue that affects millions of our fellow citizens and … it is a problem of the entire former Soviet Union,” he said. “So, one way or another, people will do this job. “
“But no one thinks of quitting. Some will have to find another job if things go really bad, because they have to feed their families. (But) we intend to continue with all this work. It is not just our job. It is a job that society needs ”, he added.
Founded in 1989 by Soviet dissidents, including the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, Memorial focused on Stalinist crimes and the gulags, and after the fall of the Soviet Union he also committed himself to defending human rights and minorities in Russia.
During the two Chechen wars in 1990 and 2000 he reported abuses by Russian forces and their local allies. In 2009, its manager in the Caucasus region was assassinated in a crime not yet elucidated.
(With information from AFP and Reuters)
After the closure of the NGO Memorial, the Russian justice ordered the liquidation of its human rights center
The story of Memorial, the human rights organization that stood up to the Russian authorities and was shut down
Putin’s Supreme Court ordered the closure of Memorial, an NGO emblem of individual freedoms in Russia