Putin wants to erase memories of Soviet repression, says threatened NGO

Moscow, Nov 20 (EFE).- Russian president Vladimir Putin is intent on erasing any trace of repression during the Soviet era, according to human rights group Memorial, which is facing a lawsuit that could see it closed down.

Judges at Russia’s Supreme Court will next week process a petition from the Prosecutor General’s Office calling for the dissolution of the NGO on accusations it does not comply with Russia’s foreign agents law.

“They want us to cease to exist,” said Alexander Cherkasov, the director of the organization, which was founded in 1991 by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, among others, to document crimes and preserve the memory of victims of the Soviet Union.

“The Russian authorities want to inherit only past glories and do away with the investigation of (state) crimes,” he added.

Memorial International has been listed as a foreign agent since 2016. Modern Russia’s answer to the Soviet’s ‘enemy of the people,’ the law was introduced by Putin a decade ago although critics describe it as a tool to clamp down on civil society.

Memorial has come under pressure from Russian authorities for its criticism of court rulings and its list of political prisoners. In its latest list, the NGO included the name of Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most outspoken Putin critic, in a move widely regarded as the trigger for the latest legal action.

Cherkasov said he believes the list is being used as an “excuse” to push for the shutdown of Memorial and that the Kremlin’s real object is to erase the traces of crimes committed by the Soviet Union and by the Russian Federation since.

Memorial said that the official number of Soviet repression victims stands at 12 million but only 3.5 million have been identified by its activists.

The last leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev and the head of the Novaya gazeta newspaper, Dmitry Muratov, both Nobel Peace Prize laureates, recently spoke out against the closure of Memorial. EFE


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