The director of the NGO that was closed by Russia spoke: “Putin is a secret agent, he does not believe in an independent civil society”

Supporters of the human rights group Memorial in Russia gather with journalists outside the headquarters of the Supreme Court, which ruled the closure of the organization (Photo: Reuters) (EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA /)

Russia on Tuesday turned its back on its dark Soviet past by liquidate the main human rights organization in this country, Memorial, considered the voice of the reprisals of the USSR, the scourge of Stalinism and a headache for the head of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin.

“It is a question of professional deformation, Putin, as a good agent of the secret services, does not believe in an independent civil society”, commented to the agency EFE Alexandr Cherkásov, director of Memorial.

It was useless that since the last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, to the Nobel Peace Prize, Dmitri Muratov, or the European Commission will call on the Russian Prosecutor’s Office to withdraw the lawsuit against the oldest NGO in this country.

At the request of the Prosecutor’s Office, which accused Memorial of violating the law of foreign agents, the modern version of the “enemy of the people” of the USSR, the Supreme Court today ordered the withering liquidation of Memorial.

Some of the items that Memorial kept (Photo: EFE)
Some of the items that Memorial kept (Photo: EFE) (Ignacio Ortega /)

The ruling, which satisfies the request of the Prosecutor’s Office that accused the NGO of creating “A false image of the Soviet Union as a terrorist state”, dissolves both the organization that is in charge of preserving historical memory and the one that is in charge of defending human rights that make up Memorial International.

The prosecutor, Alexei Zhafiárov, charged Memorial for “Distort” the victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) and rehabilitate Nazi criminals “on whose hands is the blood of Soviet citizens.”

“Why now we, the descendants of the victors, must observe the attempts to rehabilitate the traitors to the fatherland and the Nazi accomplices? Surely, because someone pays for it, ”he said.

According to Cherkasov, “The USSR under Lenin and Stalin used the terminology of terrorist dictatorship and its leaders were not ashamed of it.”

A supporter of the human rights group International Memorial holds up a sign that reads
A supporter of the human rights group International Memorial holds up a sign that reads “We will live forever” outside a court building (Photo: REUTERS / Evgenia Novozhenina) (EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA /)

“The ruling is clearly a political commission. The difficulties for human rights organizations began 15 years ago, our life became even more complicated after the annexation of Crimea (2014), but since the constitutional reform (2020), with the creation of a new political landscape, there is no place for NGOs in Russia ”, assured.

“Shame!”, was the shout that could be heard in front of the Supreme building, where about a hundred people gathered to support Memorial.


Memorial accuses the Kremlin and state security organs, in particular the Federal Security Service (FSB, former KGB), to try to stop him from investigating the crimes committed during the USSR.

Putin and his supporters just want to draw a glorious superpower past. It is like a supreme value that does not admit of doubts. According to this way of thinking, the State is everything and the rights of the citizen, nothing ”, explained Cherkásov.

A judge of the Supreme Court of Russia pronounces the verdict (Photo: REUTERS / Evgenia Novozhenina)
A judge of the Supreme Court of Russia pronounces the verdict (Photo: REUTERS / Evgenia Novozhenina) (EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA /)

The Russian authorities, according to the head of Memorial, do not understand that there may be “Debates in Parliament, that the opposition criticizes the government, that a human rights activist asks questions or that the press investigates.”

“For them, the truth can only be secret, classified. What they do not understand is that if there is no interaction with society, the system is doomed to catastrophe, “he says.

Memorial, an organization formally founded in 1991, among others, by the dissident and scientist Andrei Sakharov, has a database with more than three million victims of Soviet repressions, out of a total of 12 million.

In addition, it has a museum dedicated to the GULAG o network of Soviet labor camps and a file with 41,000 executioners who worked for the NKVD, forerunner of KGB, during the Stalinist purges.

Vladimir Putin (Photo: Reuters)
Vladimir Putin (Photo: Reuters) (SPUTNIK /)

The activists also accuse Putin of trying to hide the state crimes perpetrated since he came to power (1999), starting with the Second Chechen War. “The repression will continue,” warns the activist.


Before the ruling was known, Memorial’s defender, veteran lawyer Guenri Reznik, warned that the trial is “A test of the values ​​that determine life in a rule of law”, after which he announced that he will appeal the sentence, if necessary, before the European Court of Human Rights.

”Close, liquidate, suspend, prohibit. They will not be able to do it with Memorial, since there is a popular demand for historical memory. The trend is clear, but you don’t have to go into exile. The protest mood is still alive. It’s too early to be buried, ”Cherkasov said.

In this regard, the director of Memorial International, Yan RachinskiHe assured that the ruling does not imply the cessation of the activities of the NGO, since there are many organizations attached to it that are not registered or do not appear as legal persons.

“Suspending the activities of Memorial is not within the possibilities of the Prosecutor’s Office”, underlined.

The closing of Memorial is an attempt to “Cloud the national memorial of state repression” and is “an insult to the victims of the GULAG”, according to Amnesty International.

(With information from EFE)


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Putin’s Supreme Court ordered the closure of Memorial, an NGO emblem of individual freedoms in Russia