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Russia: authorities step up 'witch-hunt' against Memorial with house raids

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning organisation has been accused of ‘rehabilitating Nazism’ after compiling a list of victims of the Soviet era 

Memorial was closed down by the authorities in 2021

‘They view Memorial’s work … as a threat to their power’ - Natalia Zviagina 

Reacting to news that security officials have searched the homes of members of Memorial, Russia’s oldest human rights organisation and recent Nobel Peace Prize awardee, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director, said: 

“By raiding the homes of members of Memorial, the Russian authorities are continuing their witch-hunt against human rights defenders and activists. 

“They view Memorial’s work - which includes protecting human rights in an increasingly repressive Russia and recording the crimes against humanity committed during the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union - as a threat to their power.” 

“As a pretext for raiding the homes of members of Memorial, the Russian authorities accused them of ‘rehabilitating Nazism’, which is manifestly absurd. 

“The Kremlin must urgently end its shameful campaign of repression against activists and those working to preserve the memories of Stalin’s brutality. 

“Memorial’s crucial work of documenting the past, educating young people and marking the history of political repression must be allowed to continue.” 

Nine properties raided

Earlier today, Russian security forces searched the homes of nine members of Memorial, including its chairman, Yan Rachinsky, and raided the organisation’s headquarters in Moscow. On the same day, Oleg Orlov, Memorial’s board member whose home was also searched, was charged with “repeatedly discrediting the Russian armed forces”.

Between 11 and 13 March, law-enforcement officers also searched the homes of two members of Memorial in the city of Perm in the Urals, and they also raided the city’s Centre for Historical Memory.  

The Russian authorities have accused members of Memorial of “rehabilitating Nazism” after the organisation compiled a list of some four million victims of political terror in the USSR. In December 2021, the Russian authorities ordered the liquidation of Memorial, citing a violations of Russia’s highly repressive “foreign agents” legislation. In 2022, Memorial was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 


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