Another Memorial Organisation Closure Sought


The Moscow City Prosecutor's Office has filed a lawsuit with the Moscow City Court requesting closure of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, a Moscow-based branch of International Memorial.

The document, submitted to the Court on 8 November, was made available to the Memorial HRC on 12 November.

The preliminary court hearing is set for 23 November.

The 11-page document signed by Moscow City Prosecutor Denis Popov is followed by a 180-page appendix. It contains what the Prosecutor's office calls testimony to 'repeated and serious violations of the Russian Constitution and federal laws.' The prosecutors also accuse the Memorial HRC of violating international legislation.

More specifically, the Prosecutor's office singles out the Memorial HRC's refusal to apply to be registered on the foreign agents' roster in line with the 2012 legislation. The organisation was added to the 'foreign agents' list by the Justice Ministry in 2014.

Also, the Moscow Prosecutor says Memorial HRC has repeatedly failed to append the 'foreign agents' label to its messages on social networks.

Other allegations include 'linguistic and psychological evidence' of 'acquitting' terrorist or extremist organisations banned in Russia. This refers to the political prisoners' list that has been published by the Memorial HRC since 2008.

These accusations are but absurd, the Memorial HRC has said.

The so-called 'foreign agents' legislation has been vague from its very inception. Yet its interpretation was prone to be arbitrary and elastic. Prior to 2019, the Justice Ministry and Russia's government media watchdog, the Roskomnadzor, had never requested the NGOs on the 'foreign agents' list add labels to their social networks messages. The labelling requirements surfaced unexpectedly in 2019. Is it lawful to close an organisation for not complying with the demands that have not been voiced?

Charges of acquitting terrorism and extremism are just as odd. Because someone appears on Memorial's political prisoners list does not mean that Memorial agrees with or endorses the views or statements made by that person or organisation, and we have always been careful to point that out.