Moscow court orders shutdown of Memorial human rights center

Moscow, Dec 29 (EFE).- A second Russian court on Wednesday ordered the dissolution of Russia’s Memorial Human Rights Center over allegations of violating laws linked to overseas funding, as well as justifying extremism and terrorism.

The ban comes a day after Russia’s Supreme Court ordered International Memorial, the country’s leading human rights group created to document repression and uncover crimes committed by the Soviet Union, to shut down.

“The court has decided to uphold the motion from the Moscow prosecutor and to liquidate the Memorial human rights center,” Judge Mikhail Kazakov said, according to Russian media.

At Wednesday’s hearing, the prosecutor general’s office accused Memorial of failing to abide by a Russian law requiring all groups receiving financial support from abroad to register themselves as “foreign agents.”

Jan Rachinsky, Memorial’s chairman, told Russian media that they would appeal any court ruling not in their favor.

“We will always (…) appeal any court decision that is not in our favor. First in the national courts. We will go to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if we need to,” he said.

Rachinsky added that Memorial had already raised the case with the ECHR when Russia declared the rights group a “foreign agent” in 2012.

Lawyer Mikhail Biryukov said the verdict on Memorial center was “totally disproportionate with respect to the violations that were highlighted by the Prosecutor’s Office in the lawsuit.”

Diplomats from Spain, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the United States and Germany attended the hearing session, according to TASS news agency.

On Tuesday, prosecutors said Memorial NGO was distorting the image of USSR as a “terrorist state” and re-writing Soviet history.

The last leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev and prominent journalist Dmitri Muratov, both Nobel Peace Prize laureates, in November, requested the prosecution withdraw its charges against the NGO.

They argued that Memorial was dedicated to historical justice and preserving the memory of the hundreds of thousands who were oppressed by the Soviet Union.

The prosecution brought the case to the Supreme Court accusing Memorial of violating the constitution and Russia’s foreign agent laws — Memorial has been classed as a foreign agent since 2016.

However, critics and Memorial supporters accuse the Kremlin and the organs of state of trying to stop the NGO from investigating crimes committed by the Soviet Union.

Renowned Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, Nobel Peace prize winner, was a co-founder of Memorial when it first emerged just before the collapse of the Soviet Union. EFE


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