The closure of the Top Rights Group Memorial in Russia is being considered by a Russian court.


The closure of the Top Rights Group Memorial in Russia is being considered by a Russian court.

On Thursday, Russia’s Supreme Court will consider a request to close down Memorial, the country’s most visible human rights organization and a bedrock of its civil society.

Memorial, which was founded in 1989 by Soviet dissidents including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, has amassed a vast database of Soviet-era crimes and has ceaselessly advocated for human rights in Russia.

Prosecutors have urged the court to disband Memorial International, the organization’s central structure, for allegedly breaking Russia’s contentious “foreign agent” law.

The closure of Memorial has prompted significant outcry, with supporters claiming that it will mark the end of an era in Russia’s post-Soviet democratisation.

It comes after a year marked by unprecedented repression of President Vladimir Putin’s critics, including the imprisonment of prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and the outlawing of his organizations.

The group’s founders believe that by taking the previously unthinkable step of closing Memorial, Russian authorities will be sending a message to both the West and domestic opponents.

Irina Shcherbakova, a founding member of the Memorial, told AFP ahead of the hearing that the message is: “We are doing anything we want to civil society here. We will put anybody we want behind prison and shut down whoever we want.” The Supreme Court is hearing one of two cases filed against Memorial International this month, and it is being heard because the organisation is registered as an international body. The decision will not be appealable in a Russian court.

The case against the Memorial Human Rights Centre, on the other hand, began on Tuesday in a Moscow court and will be heard later this month.

Both Memorial International and the Human Rights Centre have been accused of breaking laws as “foreign agents,” a legal designation that requires individuals or organizations to declare their funding sources and include a disclaimer in all of their publications.

For releasing lists of imprisoned members of prohibited political or religious organisations, the Human Rights Centre has been charged with advocating “extremist and terrorist acts.”

In recent years, the term “foreign agent,” which conjures up images of treachery and espionage from the Soviet era, has been applied to a wide range of human rights organizations and independent media.

Memorial has spent decades documenting crimes done in the Soviet Union, particularly in the infamous Gulag system of prison camps.

It has also advocated for the rights of political prisoners, migrants, and other marginalized groups, highlighting human rights violations, particularly in the volatile North Caucasus region, which includes Chechnya.

It’s an. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.


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