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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Russia. The prosecutor’s office wants to liquidate the Memorial Association. “It systematically concealed the granted status of a foreign agent”

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Memorial Association “systematically concealed” the status granted by the authorities of the “non-governmental organization acting as a foreign agent” – explained the representative of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office during the Thursday hearing in the Supreme Court. The court examines a motion to liquidate a distinguished organization that defends human rights and documents Stalinist crimes.

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The memorial was supposed to hide the fact that he was considered a “foreign agent”, thus violating the Russian constitution, explained prosecutor Dmitry Vagurin during the trial in court on Thursday. In his opinion, this is what the inspections showed.

At the request of the lawyers, to indicate which Memorial materials lacked the information that he was considered a “foreign agent”, the prosecutor replied, “this designation is on the website, but it is difficult to find”. “A man will go to your website and will not immediately realize who he is reading,” he said.

The hearing of the Supreme Court on the Memorial MAXIM SHIPENKOV / PAP / EPA

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READ: Joint statement of the Presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on the Memorial

The basis of the application for liquidation

In the application for the liquidation of Memorial, the prosecutor’s office also referred to the provisions on the protection of children. In her opinion, the organization is in breach of these regulations. At the hearing on Thursday, Prosecutor Wagurin had a long time to explain to lawyers exactly what content violates the law, then replied that it was “all the information that the organization disseminates without being labeled (that it is a so-called ‘foreign agent’)”.

The prosecutor’s office’s application read out in the court shows that the application for liquidation is based on about 20 cases, when the materials of the Memorial lacked a note stating that he had the status of a “foreign agent”. It is about the lack of a note in nine materials on the Internet, six – in books published by Memorial, three times missing in the folders of the organization and one such case in a board game. Lawyers have evidence that whenever it turned out that there was a shortage, it was fixed immediately.

The court hearing is chaired by Judge Alla Nazarova, who in 2018 decided to liquidate the “For Human Rights” movement, led by the well-known human rights defender Lev Ponomariov. At the beginning of the session, the judge rejected almost all applications submitted by the defense, i.e. Memorial’s lawyers.

Supporters of the Memorial Association in front of the Supreme Court building MAXIM SHIPENKOV / PAP / EPA

So in front of the courthouse

The number of seats for the public in the courtroom is limited. Journalists were moved to the press center inside the building. Meanwhile, several hundred people gathered in front of the Supreme Court building to express their support for the Memorial. Many of them wore protective masks with the Memorial’s logo and slogans against its liquidation.

Irina, one of the women waiting at the door of the court, told PAP that she considered the meeting on the Memorial to be a significant event. She explained that she considered the International Memorial Association, which investigates and commemorates Stalinist repression, to be “an extremely important organization”. She pointed out that the prosecutor’s office also wanted to liquidate the Human Rights Center, which is part of the Memorial. If this happens, “all human rights organizations will be destroyed.”

Main photo source: MAXIM SHIPENKOV / PAP / EPA



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