Russia’s Supreme Court is hearing a petition Thursday to shut down one of the country’s oldest and most prominent human rights group, a move that sparked public outrage and is part of a months-long crackdown on dissent .
MOSCOW — Russia’s Supreme Court is hearing a petition Thursday to shut down one of the country’s oldest and most prominent human rights group, a move that sparked public outrage and sparked outrage among activists, independent media and opposition supporters. But it is part of a month-long action.
The prosecutor general’s office earlier this month petitioned the Supreme Court to quash the legal status of Memorial – an international human rights group that rose to prominence for its studies of political repression in the Soviet Union and currently in Russia and abroad. Contains more than 50 small groups.
Memorial was declared a “foreign agent” in 2016—a label that implies additional government investigation and carries strong derogatory connotations that could discredit the targeted organization. Prosecutors allege that the group repeatedly violated rules obliging them to mark themselves as “foreign agents” and tried to hide the designation.
Memorial and its supporters have alleged that it is politically motivated.
The pressure on the group has sparked public outcry, with several prominent figures speaking out in support of it this month. A large crowd gathered in front of the Supreme Court building in support of the organisation, as hearings began on Thursday on the plea for closure of the memorial.
At least three people have reportedly been detained – two of them elderly women holding banners that read “Thank you, Memorial, for remembering us” and “You don’t kill the memory of the people.” Can.”
It is unclear whether the monument plans to continue operating without a legal entity if the court rules to revoke its status, as has been followed by earlier actions by several other rights groups in Russia.
In recent months, the Russian government has designated several independent media outlets, journalists and human rights groups as “foreign agents”. At least two were disbanded to avoid coercive action.