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Russia: Authorities move to 'muzzle' the country's most respected human rights groups

Reacting to news that Russia moves to close a prominent human rights group International Memorial, and its sister organisation Human Rights Centre Memorial, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said: 

“The Russian authorities’ move to extinguish one of the oldest and most influential human rights groups in the country demonstrates their relentless determination to end all ongoing human rights work in Russia.

“By targeting Memorial and its mission to preserve the memory of victims of human rights violations during the Soviet era, the authorities believe they can simply erase the state’s past crimes against its own people from the history books forever.

“The Prosecutor General's Office is claiming that, by not marking its publications with the toxic and stigmatising ‘foreign agent’ label, International Memorial is in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, among others. If the prosecutor's office and Russian authorities stood guard over these pillars of international human rights law, Russia would be a vastly different place today. 

“The ‘foreign agents’ law is being weaponised to muzzle not only critics of the Kremlin but all independent voices entirely. By accusing Memorial of ‘glorifying terrorism and extremism’, the Prosecutor General’s Office betrays a level of cynicism that is beyond belief.  

“The Russian authorities must immediately end the reprisals against Memorial and bring Russia’s legislation regulating associations in line with the international human rights law and standards, including by repealing the ‘foreign agents’ law.” 

Russian prosecutors request judicial liquidation

On 11 November, it became known that three days earlier the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office had requested the Supreme Court to liquidate Memorial International.

The next day, its sister organisation, Memorial Human Rights Centre, announced that a similar move had been made against it by the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office. 

The Supreme Court will consider the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office on 25 November. The date of the hearing in the Moscow City Court is not yet known. 

The twin Memorial organisations are among the oldest and most respected human rights groups in Russia. They started operating in 1988 during the wave of perestroika reforms. The Soviet dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov was the first chair of Memorial until his death in 1989. 

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