On Tuesday, Dec. 28, Russia has shut down its oldest human rights group which documente crimes from the Soviet era.
Russia’s Supreme Court forced Memorial International to dissolve for breaching the rule on ‘foreign agents.’
Moscow claims it is simply upholding the law to combat extremism and defend the country from foreign influence.
“Memorial is a special organisation with its own ideology. We combine what’s called relevant human rights activities with historical studies and comprehending the historical path of Russia in the 20th century. It seems that such a union does not please someone in the Russian leadership,” Memorial board member Oleg Orlov said.
According to Memorial’s website, it has financing sources from Poland, Germany, Canada, and the Czech Republic. It is one of the critical reasons authorities designated the group a foreign agent.
According to a state prosecutor, Memorial created a misleading image of the USSR as a “terrorist state” and tarnished the memory of the communist regime’s behavior during World War II. He added that “someone” was paying Memorial for the betrayal.
Stalin’s position as a modernizer who helped the Soviet Union beat Nazi Germany in World War II has been hailed in modern Russian textbooks.
“The decision … confirmed that the history of political terror … does not remain an academic theme for Russia of interest for just specialists but an acute problem for modern Russia. Our country needs an honest and scrupulous reflection on its Soviet past,” Memorial said according to Reuters.
Memorial stated that as it is not an organization or even a movement, it will find a legal means to continue its activities.
U.S. State Department spokesman Edward “Ned” Price said of the ruling: “We urge Russian authorities to end their harassment of independent voices and human rights defenders and stand in solidarity with those who have been targeted for repression for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,”.
The Memorial was founded by notable dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate and nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov, during the “glasnost” era of Soviet liberalization.
It recently published a list of those it regards to be political detainees.
In 2015, authorities put the organization on the official list of “foreign agents” imposing a slew of limitations on its operations.