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“Memorial” under threat in Russia

Alexandra Louis (ALDE, France), the PACE’s General Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, joined her voice to express concern about the possible closure of Memorial, the oldest human rights organisation in Russia. On 11 November 2021 it became known that the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office sought to liquidate International Memorial, and that the Moscow prosecutor’s office requested to shut down Memorial’s human rights defence centre.

“’Memorial’ is the oldest and largest human rights organisation in Russia, known worldwide for its courageous activists and serious research. A symbol of the power of democracy in Russia, ‘Memorial’ was founded in 1989 by, among others, Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov and the former member of our Assembly Sergei Kovalev."

“The reason given by the Russian Prosecutor for this step – violations of the law on ‘foreign agents’ – is unacceptable. As the Assembly has said several times, referring in particular to the Venice Commission’s opinion, and as the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić has just reaffirmed, this law stigmatises NGOs and has a repressive impact on civil society in Russia. […] I hope that the Russian Supreme Court will not follow up on the Prosecutor's request, as it did in 2015 after an appeal by the Ministry of Justice.”

"The Council of Europe therefore calls on Russia to repeal this legislation. I hope that the Russian Supreme Court will not follow up on the Prosecutor's request, as it did in 2015 after an appeal by the Ministry of Justice,” declared Alexandra Louis.

Memorial was funded in 1989 in the late-Soviet Union by, among others, the Nobel Prize winner Andrei Saharov to gather information, study and raise awareness about political repressions in the USSR. International Memorial was established in 1992 and a human rights center Memorial in 1993. Memorial not only continued its historic research but has become one of the most reputed human rights defence organisations in Russia. Memorial is closely working with the Council of Europe, including the European Court of Human Rights.
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