On 8 November 2021, the General Prosecutor's Office of Russia sent an administrative claim to the Supreme Court to liquidate International Historical Educational Charitable and Human Rights Society «Memorial», and the Moscow City Prosecutor's Office sent an application to the Moscow City Court to liquidate the Human Rights Centre "Memorial".
The formal grounds for the claims were that the organizations repeatedly violated the legislation on "foreign agents". To make their claims more convincing, the Prosecutor's Office also alleges violations of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and even the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The "foreign agents" legislation was initially created to pursue repressive goals and was one of the steps taken to deliberately corrupt the law in our country. The attack on the guarantees of civil rights and freedoms has been going on for many years in the socially significant branches of the Russian legal system: in legislation regulating the activities of civil society institutions, in electoral legislation, in media legislation, and even at the level of the Russian Constitution.
The Golos movement knows from experience what Memorial is facing now – we too went through the forced liquidation of the Golos association and four other organizations. We offer our solidarity to our colleagues and hope that they will be able to preserve their institutions, invaluable archives, and databases on the history of state terror, dissent, and contemporary political prisoners. Obviously, destroying the memory of state terror and the millions of our ancestors who suffered from it is one of the goals of this state action.
Even amid the usual weekly news reports of Russian citizens and organizations being listed as "foreign agents" on absurd grounds, and made subject to fines, searches, and arrests, this attack on one of the oldest human rights institutions stands apart. It is all the more disturbing because it takes place in the year of the centenary of Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov, who participated in the creation of Memorial, and the year in which another Russian, Dmitry Muratov, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to protect one of the fundamental human freedoms, the freedom of speech.
The Golos Movement appeals to all those who care about the future of the country – NGOs, the media, lawyers, politicians, and all concerned citizens – with an initiative to hold an emergency civil meeting at which common steps must be developed to counter this deliberate attack on civil rights and freedoms. Solidarity should not only be a matter of words; solidarity actions are needed.
We also call once again for the signing of a petition to repeal the "foreign agents" law. We are convinced that if Memorial is closed for violating the law on "foreign agents", it is not Memorial that should be closed, but the law that ought to be repealed.