Moscow Helsinki Group warns against Memorial organisation shutdown
MOSCOW, October 22 (RAPSI) – Ludmila Alexeeva, a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Group and well-known human rights activist, told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that closing the human rights organization Memorial at the request of the Justice Ministry would jolt the world.
The Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit filed by the Justice Ministry to shut down the Russian historical, educational, human rights and charitable society, Memorial, which includes dozens of NGOs across Russia, on November 13. The ministry has questions about the organization’s structure and claims to have evidence that it has regularly violated the law.
“When I heard this terrible news, that they planned to shut down Memorial, I said this was madness and that I believe it won’t happen,” Alexeeva told RIA Novosti. She said that closing this human rights organization would provoke a loud international outcry.
“I’m not exaggerating, because Memorial has an international reputation and respect,” she said. “If they attempt to shut it down, it will be an international shock.”
The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has written a letter to the Russian government, asking not to shut down Memorial.
Ludmila Alexeeva, 87, recalled that Memorial, Memorial chairman Sergei Kovalyov, and chairman of the Memorial Center, the part of Memorial that monitors the human rights situation in the North Caucasus, were awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for the freedom of thought.
One of Memorial’s declared goals is to help rehabilitate the victims of Stalinist persecution campaigns. It also includes the Memorial Center, which monitors the human rights situation in the North Caucasus and is on the foreign agents register.
A federal law was adopted in November 2012 requiring all NGOs engaged in political activity and receiving foreign funding to register as “foreign agents” or face fines of up to 500,000 rubles (approx. $14,200).