Memorial International group have to shut down

December 29, 2021

Memorial International group have to shut down

The fight for more human rights in Russia continues. However, activists are having a bad week after Russia’s Supreme Court decided to shut down Memorial International on Tuesday.

The group, which was founded in 1989, is one of the most respected organizations in the country when it comes to human rights.

Sister group Memorial Human Rights Center was also ordered to cease activity by a Russian court on Wednesday. The two organizations are separate legal entities.

Top human rights groups face a dire future in Vladimir Putin’s Russia

Memorial International concentrates on the abuses of the Stalinist era, while Memorial Human Rights focuses on the situation in the country at the moment.

Many countries around the globe have expressed their discomfort with the two decisions.

However, experts say this is a huge win for Russian President Vladimir Putin as the country continues its descent into authoritarianism.

The state prosecutors have accused the groups of violating the country’s so-called “foreign agent” law.

The groups supposedly lacked transparency when it comes to their financial information, especially in relation to funds raised abroad.

While the outcome is hard to accept for supporters, many saw it coming. In a speech delivered earlier this month, Mr. Putin linked Memorial to terrorist and extremist entities.

However, he did praise their past work.

Critics say the decisions are political

Supporters of the organizations say that law was used to silence them. The rulings will be appealed, and the two groups are looking for ways to continue their work legally.

In the past year, the Putin regime has spent a lot of resources targeting society organizations by associating them with extremism.

As Putin keeps garnering more power in the country, there has been less room for those who are actively pushing democratic values.

The arrest of Putin’s political opponent, Alexey Navalny, is also part of this new reality.

The Biden administration’s State Department, Great Britain, and the United Nations have all criticized the rulings. International organizations that focused on human rights have also come out against the decisions.

However, some observers fear that the rulings might be announcing more sinister plans for the future.

Is Russia planning more crackdown?

Putin has gone after Big Tech, and he is destroying organizations like Memorial that supposedly have ties to the West. The crackdown is illustrated by the term “undesirable”. Which makes it easier to prosecute organizations that are linked to groups deemed “undesirable.”

Pessimists say if Memorial cannot stand despite its stellar work and reputation, it is unlikely that other groups will be able to resist.

Backers of the two organizations say it is crucial to reverse the rulings because this week represents a moment of truth in the fight against authoritarianism in Russia.

While the intentions are clear and laudable, some observers say it is hard to take on the Putin machine. With the military campaign near Russia’s border with Ukraine, the attack on Big Tech, and the crackdown of human rights groups, the Russian president seems to be about winning.

His opponents have not been able to score many points against him.

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