Russian court orders the closure of Memorial, the oldest civil rights group – sport news football96

Russia’s Supreme Court has ordered the closure of International Memorial, Russia’s oldest human rights group.

Memorial worked to preserve the memory of the millions of innocent people who were executed, imprisoned, or persecuted during the Soviet era.

It was formally “liquidated” because it failed to label a number of social media posts with its official “foreign agent” status.

This award was given in 2016 for receiving funding from abroad.

But in court, the prosecutor called Memorial a “public threat” and accused the group of being paid by the West to draw attention to Soviet crimes rather than pointing to a “glorious past”.
Established in 1989, the memorial became a symbol of a country opening to the world – and to itself – as Russia began to examine the darkest chapters of its past. Its closure is a powerful symbol of how the country under President Vladimir Putin has come back on itself and rejects criticism – even of history – as a hostile act.

There were “shame!” Shouts. of those in court when the decision was read out.

The ruling also sheds light on the increasing repression in Russia today, where Memorial’s own human rights wing now lists more than 400 political prisoners and independent groups and media are increasingly blacklisted as “foreign agents”.

In court, Memorial attorneys argued that the group’s work was beneficial to “the health of the nation.” They declared Memorial a friend of Russia, not its enemy, and called the liquidation case absurd and “Orwellian”.

Among the sites that the group failed to label “foreign agent” status was the vast database of victims of political repression it has built over three decades of work.

The team argued that all errors had been corrected and that it was disproportionate to shut down a known and respected organization because of such technical errors.

The Justice Department argued that the social importance of a group could not be an excuse for breaking the law. But the prosecutor’s closing speech pointed to a deeper motivation for this case.

“International Memorial … focuses almost exclusively on distorting historical memory, primarily about the Great Patriotic War [World War II],” said Alexei Zhafyarov in court, accusing the group of misrepresenting the USSR as a “terrorist” create. Status.

Vladimir Putin attached great importance to the Soviet victory over the Nazis in World War II, part of his nostalgia for the old days of superpower status – a far more attractive focus for many Russians than the parallel story of secret courts, prison camps, and layoff cadres. “Why should we, descendants of the victors, be ashamed and repentant instead of being proud of our glorious past? Somebody is likely to pay for the commemoration,” the prosecutor claimed in court. “They chose us because we are strong and prominent and because we irritate them,” Memorial board member Oleg Orlov recently told the BBC about the move to close an organization he worked for from the start. “The authorities politicize history these days, but we say things they don’t like. We talk about the difficult parts of the past and that annoys them,” he said. The organization has been under pressure for many years, but that pressure intensified when Russia was gripped by a violent patriotic wave after the annexation of Crimea by Ukraine in 2014, and in 2016 it was listed as a “foreign agent” – a slander that was sinister Wisely reminiscent of the Stalinist era when those labeled “enemies of the people” were persecuted and purged. It wasn’t until October, when a crowd gathered at Memorial Moscow headquarters to watch Mr. Jones, a film about the Stalin-era famine that killed millions in Ukraine, that a nationalist mob stormed the scene , called the audience as “fascists” and shouted: “Hands off our history.” The sister organization Memorial Human Rights Center, which deals with the documentation of modern political repression and rights violations, is also closed for alleged violations of the law on foreign agents A judgment in a separate case is expected this week. Memorial wants to appeal the decisions, including before the European Court of Human Rights. Oleg Orlov sees the trial against both as a warning: “The attack on us is a strong signal to all civil society in Russia thought. They say: ‘Look! Problem, liquidating you all too’ “, he told the B BC. “It’s time to clear the field for good.”

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