Russia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the closure of the Memorial, the country’s oldest human rights group, has been criticized by lawmakers for failing to call itself “foreign allies” and that it portrays the Soviet Union as extremist.
Memorial, so-called “Russian conscience” and others, has been working since 1989 to document and commemorate the atrocities of the Soviet era, from the massacre of the 1930s to the millions who passed through the Gulag concentration camp.
The group, which counts Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, one of the founding members, was indicted by government officials last month for violating an order to publish his publications and online publications by a foreign agent.
The government protects the country from foreign influences. Many non-governmental organizations, media outlets and journalists now have to showcase their tweets and posts. Memorial, who was selected as an international assistant in 2016, denied that he had failed to properly write his notes.
A number of lawsuits in the past month have sparked public outcry, with some criticizing the government for forcing the Memorial to be suspended in an attempt to rewrite the Soviet Union’s history and present it in a different light.
In the Supreme Court case, state attorney Aleksei Zhafyarov criticized the human rights group for not setting up the past and said it was doing so with the help of foreign aid.
“The memorial paints a false picture of the Soviet Union as a terrorist country,” Zhafyarov said ahead of Tuesday’s ruling, in a statement issued by the Novaya Gazeta court.
“It makes us repent of the Soviet past, instead of remembering history,” Zhafyarov said. It did this “probably because someone is paying”, Zhafyarov added. “This is the real reason why the Memorial is trying to isolate itself as an outside agent.”
The memorial has said that even with the decision to close the door, it will try to continue its work, which has included extensive historical investigations into Soviet security activities, including the KGB, in which President Vladimir Putin worked.
Putin also said that the Memorial helped the terrorists. This is a case that has also been filed by the government against the human rights memorial of the Memorial, a co-operative body that focuses on the atrocities taking place today and maintains a list of political prisoners. It also faces a resolution in the same case in a Moscow court on Wednesday.
“Right now, we have nothing to say,” the Memorial human rights center wrote on its way to the Telegraph messenger program following the Supreme Court ruling. “The protest is over, and we are all sick,” it added, as protesters outside the courthouse chanted: “Shame! Shame!”
Memorial attorneys have stated that they will appeal against the Supreme Court’s decision.