Moscow court considers shutting down Memorial legal rights centre – Numerous Bulletin

A Moscow court today heard a case against a leading rights group Memorial that could shut down the veteran organisation, closing off a year marked by a major crackdown on civil society. — Reuters picA Moscow court now heard a situation from a primary legal rights group Memorial that could shut down the veteran organisation, closing off a yr marked by a big crackdown on civil modern society. — Reuters pic

MOSCOW, Dec 23 — A Moscow courtroom now read a case in opposition to a major rights group Memorial that could shut down the veteran organisation, closing off a year marked by a main crackdown on civil culture.

Memorial’s Human Rights Centre, which campaigns for political prisoners and other deprived groups, is accused of violating Russia’s regulation on “foreign agents” and of justifying terrorism.

As the initial hearing in the case kicked off right now, about 3 dozen supporters gathered outside the house the Moscow courthouse in freezing temperatures. 

Observers ended up not allowed inside of, which decide Mikhail Kazakov mentioned was “to create harmless conditions for the contributors of the process”. 

Upcoming 7 days, Russia’s Supreme Court docket will rule on the liquidation of the group’s main wing, Memorial Intercontinental, as Russians get ready to start off a 10-day point out vacation.

The court situations bookend a calendar year when authorities launched an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition and impartial media, imprisoning best Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in February and banning his organisations.

The transfer from Memorial has led to a key outcry inside of Russia and from the West, with which tensions have been soaring around ex-Soviet Ukraine.

Although Memorial has confronted strain for yrs, the go to shutter its organisations would have been unimaginable a couple of a long time in the past. 

Broad implications

Prosecutors accuse the Human Rights Centre of failing to use the “foreign agent” label on all their publications, as needed by regulation.

The team on a regular basis releases lists of people today it suggests are political prisoners, which includes banned figures this sort of as Navalny and members of spiritual minorities, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In Oct, the organisation reported there were at the very least 420 political prisoners in Russia, noting that their amount experienced risen sharply this yr. 

As effectively as political prisoners, the centre also campaigns for teams experiencing pressure from authorities, which include migrants and customers of the LGBTQ local community. 

A prior listening to to shut down the centre was held late past thirty day period guiding closed doorways.

Activists called on President Vladimir Putin to intervene, but this month he informed his human legal rights council that Memorial experienced been advocating on behalf of “terrorist and extremist organisations”.

In a message on its Telegram channel ahead of Thursday’s hearing, the centre warned that the “possible liquidation of Memorial will have an impact on a significant amount of regional and national NGOs”.

‘Friend of the people’

Memorial coordinates the work of dozens of organisations across Russia. 

Russia’s two residing Nobel Peace Prize winners — the previous Soviet chief Mikhail Gorbachev and Novaya Gazeta newspaper editor Dmitry Muratov — have urged prosecutors to withdraw their statements.

“Memorial is not an ‘enemy of the people today,’” Muratov reported in his Nobel acceptance speech in Oslo this month. “Memorial is a close friend of the people.” 

In a different situation up coming 7 days, a courtroom in the northern town of Petrozavodsk will provide its ruling on Memorial personnel Yury Dmitriyev, a historian the organisation says is staying targeted for his work exposing the horrors of the Soviet era.

Sentenced very last year to 13 yrs in prison on what his supporters say had been fabricated baby intercourse charges, he faces two added years in jail.

Memorial was established in 1989 and its initial chairman was the Nobel Prize-winning Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov. 

Ther group, which has become a symbol of put up-Soviet democratisation, has produced a large archive of Soviet-era crimes. 

The demo against it coincides with the 30th anniversary of the tumble of the Soviet Union. — AFP

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