Russian human rights organization: “Memorial persists”


Status: 07.10.2022 3:50 p.m

The Russian human rights organization Memorial is working on the crimes of the Soviet era – but was closed by the Kremlin at the end of 2021 – possibly because Moscow feared the organization as a voice against the Ukraine war.

By Annette Kammerer, ARD Studio Moscow

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is shared by the Belarusian human rights lawyer Ales Byalyatski, the Ukrainian organization Center for Civil Liberties and the Russian human rights organization Memorial. The latter was dissolved by a Russian court in late 2021 after authorities branded the organization a “foreign agent”. Strict conditions followed, many searches and then the closure.

Ban just before the start of the war

Memorial was probably the first casualty in the war against Ukraine, explained Sergei Krivenko, a member of the organization, shortly after the Nobel Peace Prize was announced. “Because the authorities closed Memorial before the attack on Ukraine.” Memorial is the oldest organization that has existed throughout modern Russia. “The authorities probably assumed that we would interfere with mobilizing the country to fight against Ukraine,” the lawyer said. “And so, of course, Memorial was closed.

Established to expose Soviet atrocities

Memorial began over 30 years ago exposing the Soviet Union’s hushed atrocities and naming the victims of Stalinist terror. Among other things, this was followed by the systematic processing of Russian war crimes in Chechnya and political prisoners.

Just now, Memorial is back in court in Moscow. The organization is threatened with the loss of office space. But that’s not the end either, explained employee Kriwenko. On the one hand, Memorial is an umbrella organization with over 80 organizations both inside and outside of Russia. On the other hand, according to Kriwenko, Memorial has long since become an idea:

Memorial continues today. Because there are still many people who collect documents of their oppressed relatives. There are always inquiries to Memorial. Therefore we cannot end the work itself at the behest of the state, because this work is important to the people.

Nobel Peace Prize: Portrait of the Russian human rights organization Memorial

10/7/2022 3:34 p.m

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