Russia’s oldest human rights institution should shut down

The Memorial Court, a prominent Russian human rights institution, has ordered its closure. The ruling is seen as a turning point in President Putin’s battle against opponents.

With Memorial, the most important and oldest human rights institution in the country will disappear. The ruling is the result of a law that must prevent the interference of “foreign agents”. Dozens of NGOs have already had to stop operating in Russia under the guise of foreign interference.

Memorial’s lawyer described the ruling as politically motivated and hoped it would attract the attention of the European Court of Human Rights. Immediately after the ruling, protests erupted outside the Moscow court.

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Memorial has been researching crimes and human rights abuses since the Soviet Union. For example, the institute was working on a database of people who ended up in gulags – punitive camps for opponents of the regime. This database threatened to give a face to many victims of the communist regime. Especially under the rule of Joseph Stalin, sleepers were sent to those penal camps.

In recent years, Memorial has stood by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the thorn in President Putin’s side.

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Denton Watson

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