Russia’s Attorney General last month asked the Supreme Court to revoke the legal status of Memorial, an international human rights body that has gained fame for its studies of political repression in the former Soviet Union.
The organization is made up of a network of more than 50 small groups established in Russia and abroad.
On Tuesday, the court ruled in favor of the lawsuit, which accused Memorial of
create a false image of the USSR as a terrorist state, to launder and rehabilitate Nazi criminals.
Video posted to Twitter by independent media outlet Mediazona shows a large crowd gathered outside the court and chanting
Shame! in reaction to the decision.
In 2016, Memorial was declared
foreign agent, a designation with a pejorative connotation intended to discredit the organization and which is accompanied by excessive government oversight.
In his petition to dissolve the organization, prosecutors alleged that the group repeatedly violated laws requiring it to identify itself as a foreign agent and that it tried to hide that designation.
Memorial and his supporters have maintained that the accusations are political in nature and the organization’s leaders have vowed to continue their work despite the court’s order to dissolve it.
The pressure exerted on the organization aroused the anger of the population. Many personalities have publicly expressed their support in recent weeks. Following the protests in court on Tuesday, several people were reportedly arrested and detained.
In recent months, Russian authorities have stepped up pressure on human rights organizations, news outlets and independent journalists, appointing dozens of new
Some have even been declared
unwanted, a designation that makes any organism illegal in Russia. Others have been accused of having links with groups
unwanted. Several organizations have been forced to shut down or disband to avoid facing charges.
Last Saturday, the authorities blocked access to the OVD-Info web platform, a major legal aid group specializing in cases of political arrests.
The government had urged social media to remove accounts linked to the group following a court ruling that the site contained material
justifying the acts of extremist and terrorist groups. The organization defended itself by calling the accusations political reprisals.
By means of a press release, OVD-Info on Tuesday condemned the court’s decision to erase Memorial.
” Memorial is an institution of national memory on the era of the Great Terror and Soviet repression. Dissolving such an institution amounts to publicly justifying the Stalinist repressions. “
: “Yes, repressions were necessary and useful to the Soviet state in the past and we still need them today” “,” text “:” It is a clear signal both for society and for the elites : “Yes, repressions were necessary and useful to the Soviet state in the past and they are still needed today ” “}}”>It is a clear signal to both society and the elites: “Yes, repressions were necessary and useful to the Soviet state in the past and they are still needed today”, can we read in the declaration.