Russia is fed up with human rights: The real reasons for the liquidation of Memorials

International Memorial and Memorial Human Rights Center

Paris, Moscow: 20 July 2022 – Earlier in 2022, two of Russia’s most authoritative human rights organisations, International Memorial and Memorial Human Rights Center, were liquidated for non-compliance with one of Russia’s notorious “Foreign Agents” laws. A new report published by the International Federation for Human Rights offers an insider’s view of the liquidation proceedings, which egregiously violate international human rights law.

In the report published on 20 July 2022, Chronicle of a Death Foretold: the Liquidation of Legendary Human Rights Organisations in Russia, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), which monitored the liquidation proceedings, describes the liquidation process, analyses it in terms of international human rights law, and assesses the implications for the broader human rights movement in the country.

FIDH’s report finds that the liquidation, which began in November 2021 and ended when all appeals were exhausted in April 2022, violated freedoms of association and expression of the organisations, and were discriminatory and politically motivated. The forced closure of the two Memorials is bound to have devastating repercussions for victims of ongoing human rights violations and for all who seek justice for Soviet-era abuses in Russia.

“The real reasons behind the liquidation proceedings became clear during the course of the trials, erasing any remaining doubt. The state has become fed up with Memorials’ criticising human rights violations committed by the current regime, as well as those of its Soviet predecessor – particularly at a time when such criticism could undermine the war effort in Ukraine.”

Ilya Nuzov, head of FIDH’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk

The simultaneous complaints brought by local and federal prosecutors against the organisations sought their dissolution for repeated violations of the Foreign Agents laws, for supposed violations of international human rights norms, including the Convention on the Rights of Child, and, in the case of Memorial Human Rights Center, for justifying terrorism. The Kafkaesque proceedings reflected the absurdity of the charges.

“Despite the attempts of the Russian authorities to liquidate Memorials, the fight for the truth and against impunity — from Bolshevik terror to first and second Chechen wars, Syria and Ukraine, will continue.”

Alexander Tcherkassov, board member of Memorial Human Rights Center

“Before starting the awful war, the Russian state needed to melt down human rights organisations and the very idea of law,” explained Natalia Morozova, from Memorial Human Rights Center. “I believe that this trial should be included in the history schoolbooks as the demonstration of a complete neglect of justice and of law by Russian judges and prosecutors at the end of the Putin era.”

“I hope that very soon we will witness the trial of these judges who made the unlawful decision to liquidate Memorial.”

Natalia Morozova, Memorial Human Rights Center

International Memorial is a non-governmental organisation that investigates political repression in the former Soviet Republics and promotes the psychological and legal rehabilitation of people subjected to political repression. Memorial HRC, an FIDH member organisation, is one of the first human rights non-profit organisations in modern-day Russia. Memorial HRC compiles and maintains a list of political prisoners based on the definition endorsed by Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) resolution 1900.

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