Russia: Risks of liquidation of International Memorial and the Human Rights Center "Memorial"

15/11/2021
Urgent Appeal
Credit: Memorial France

RUS 007 / 1121 / OBS 117
Risk of liquidation /
Judicial harassment /
Obstacles to freedom of association /
Obstacles to freedom of expression /
Russian Federation
November 15, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the risks of liquidation of the non-governmental organisations International Memorial [1] and the Human Rights Center “Memorial” (HRC Memorial) [2] in Moscow.

On November 11, 2021, International Memorial received a notification from the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation informing them that the Prosecutor General’s Office filed a lawsuit against the NGO. In the lawsuit, the Prosecutor General’s Office requested the liquidation of International Memorial on the ground that the NGO systematically violated Russia’s ”Foreign Agent” law, in particular, the requirements to label all their materials [3].

Similarly, on November 12, 2021, HRC Memorial learned that Moscow Prosecutor’s Office had brought an action before the Moscow City Court on November 8, 2021, asking for the liquidation of the NGO, on the grounds of failing to comply with the requirements of the “Foreign Agent” law and for “justification of terrorism and extremism”. The latter charges stem from HRC Memorial’s statements and analytical documents concerning political prisoners, in particular Crimean Tatars and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as the NGO’s lists of political prisoners, which it maintains and publishes on its website. The Observatory recalls that since 2013, Russian authorities have labelled some member organisations of the Memorial movement as “foreign agents”, including both International Memorial and the HRC Memorial.

The preliminary hearing in the case of International Memorial is set to take place on November 25, 2021 while the preliminary hearing in the case of HRC Memorial is scheduled for November 23, 2021.

The Observatory recalls that this is not the first time that the Memorial movement has faced acts of harassment and obstacles to its work, including through fines and searches of their premises across the country. Both organisations have paid millions of rubles in fines stemming from alleged violations of the “foreign agents” law, which has been found to be contrary to both international and domestic law.

Moreover, on October 14, 2021, the premises of International Memorial and HRC “Memorial” in Moscow were attacked by a group of over a dozen unknown people equipped with video cameras, interrupting the screening of a film. On this occasion, instead of searching the attackers, the police questioned the attendees of the screening and International Memorial’s staff and locked them into Memorial’s office for several hours. Moreover, several human rights defenders from the Memorial movement have been imprisoned on politically motivated charges, including Oyub Titiev, head of HRC Memorial’s office in Chechnya and Yury Dmitriyev, head of Karelian branch of International Memorial.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern regarding these legal proceedings and the threat of dissolution that International Memorial andHRC Memorial are facing, and calls on the Russian authorities to immediately put an end to any act of harassment against both NGOs, as well as against all organisations defending human rights in the country.

The Observatory further urges the Russian authorities to ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders in the country are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals and to guarantee the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression in the country.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russia, urging them to:

i. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against International Memorial and HRC Memorial as well as against all human rights organisations and defenders in Russia, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

ii. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the rights to freedom of expression, of freedom of assembly and of freedom of association, as enshrined in international human right law, and particularly in Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Addresses:

· Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Twitter: @KremlinRussia_E
· Mr. Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter:@GovernmentRF
· Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, E-mail: ministry@mid.ru
· Mr. Igor Krasnov, General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, Email: pressa@genproc.gov.ru
· Mr. Alexander Bortnikov, Director of Federal Security Service (FSS), Email: fsb@fsb.ru
· Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch
· Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch
· Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Email: russia.coe@orange.fr

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Russian Federation in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, November 15, 2021

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel. FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
· Tel. OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

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