(Caption for photo at top of this post, “Memorials to more than 6,600 people killed by the Soviet security services from 1937-41 at Kommunarka in southern Moscow. Photograph: Daniel McLaughlin”–from this Sept. Irish Times story: “Gulag history an ‘unhealed wound’ as Russia takes authoritarian turn: Stalin’s popularity growing as Kremlin focuses on Soviet triumphs, not tragedies”.)
Further to this post,
the hammer really is coming down on efforts to ensure, amongst other things, that Stalin’s horrific and historic crimes against his own peoples are not consigned to an historical netherworld inside Russia. Excerpts from an article at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
Russia’s Supreme Court has ordered the closure of Memorial International, one of the country’s oldest and most respected human rights organizations [website here], capping a year of what critics called the state’s systematic dismantling of the country’s civil society.
The decision by the court at a hearing in Moscow on December 28 came in a year where Kremlin critics, their associates, independent news outlets, and rights organizations have been either muzzled, jailed, closed, or forced to flee the country.
Maria Eismont, one of the lawyers in Memorial’s legal team, told the court that closing the rights organization, which counts Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov as one of its founders, would “throw the country back and increase the risk of total repression.”
Yan Rachinsky, Memorial’s chairman of the board, said the decision would be appealed and that the organization’s work would not stop since parts of it are not legal entities.
Dozens of people were at the court building in support of Memorial, which was launched shortly before the Soviet collapse in part to document Soviet repression. In the decades since, it has produced hallmark indicators of the rights situation and documented historical and ongoing injustices.
The case was initiated by prosecutors under the controversial “foreign agent” law, which increasingly is being used by officials to shutter civil society and media groups in Russia.
In announcing the decision, Judge Alla Nazarova said Memorial International breached its designation as a “foreign agent” by not marking all of its publications with the label as required by law…
“The closure of International Memorial represents a direct assault on the rights to freedom of expression and association. The authorities’ use of the ‘foreign agents’ law to dissolve the organization is a blatant attack on civil society that seeks to blur the national memory of state repression,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia director.
“The decision to shut down International Memorial is a grave insult to victims of the Russian gulag and must be immediately overturned,” she added.
The Interfax news agency quoted a lawyer for the group as saying that it would appeal, both in Russia and at the European Court of Human Rights [emphasis added]…
Memorial International, the umbrella organization under which the Memorial Human Rights Center and several other activist groups operate, is among several news outlets and rights organizations to have been labeled “foreign agents” in what is seen as a historic crackdown on civil society and critics of the government.
“The forced liquidation of the highly respected human rights organization International Memorial is another step in the deplorable degradation of human rights in Russia,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said…
In a separate case, the Moscow City Court will hold a hearing on December 29 over a prosecutor’s request to also shut down the Memorial Human Rights Center for violations of the “foreign agent” legislation.
With reporting by Interfax and Reuters
A relevant post this October: