MOSCOW: Shuttering top Russian rights group Memorial informed on 11th of November, 2021 that it has been notified by Russia’s supreme court that prosecutors had filed a demand to dissolve the group over systematic violations of “foreign agent” legislation.
In a new salvo announced Friday, Moscow prosecutors were also moving to shut down Memorial’s Human Rights Centre over alleged “repeated” constitutional violations and purported justification of “terrorism and extremism”.
The pressure on Memorial comes amid an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition and independent media in Russia, with authorities imprisoning Russia’s top opposition politician Alexei Navalny earlier this year.
Founded in 1989 by rights activists including renowned scientist and Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, Memorial has been in the cross-hairs of the Russian authorities for years.
The organisation, which has been regularly cited as a potential Nobel Peace Prize winner but never won, campaigns for the preservation of historical memory in Russia and against rights violations.
The presidential rights council, which usually toes the Kremlin’s line, said the request to shut down Memorial was unjust and “not commensurate” with the violations.
The council said in a statement it “considers the right to association a very important value and believes the forced dissolution of the oldest public organisation to be an extreme measure”.
“The council is monitoring the situation with concern, conducting consultations and will take steps to settle the situation around Memorial,” the statement added.
The secretary general of rights body the Council of Europe, Marija Pejcinovic Buric, urged Russian prosecutors to reconsider, saying the closure of Memorial “would deal a further devastating blow to civil society, which is an essential pillar of any democracy”.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas labelled the news “troubling” and hailed the group’s “courageous, tireless work” in the interests of the Russian people.
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