Russia Closes Oldest Rights Group

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

MOSCOW (Worthy News) – In an Orwellian move that critics view resembling the Soviet-era, Russia’s Supreme Court banned Tuesday one of the country’s oldest and main human rights groups.

The court agreed with prosecutors that the Memorial group “creates a false image” of the Russia-dominated Soviet Union, or USSR, which collapsed in December 1991.

The Supreme Court said Memorial called
“the USSR a terrorist state” while “whitewashing and rehabilitating Nazi criminals” from World War Two.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Prosecutor General’s Office to revoke the legal status of Memorial.

Tuesday’s decision came as a setback for the human rights group, which rose to international prominence for its studies of political repression in the Soviet Union.

Memorial currently comprises more than 50 smaller related groups in Russia and abroad. There were shouts of “shame!” from activists in the courtroom when the decision was announced.

The Court-ordered closure of Memorial underscores what advocates view as the rise in repression in modern-day Russia. Memorial’s own human rights wing lists more than 400 political prisoners, while independent groups and media are increasingly blacklisted as “foreign agents.”

Founded in 1989, Memorial became a symbol of a country opening up as Russia began examining the darkest chapters of its authoritarian past. However, decades later, the government has turned back in on itself under President Vladimir Putin, rejecting criticism – even of history – as “a hostile act,” trial observers said.

Russia also extended the prison term to an activist who investigated Stalin-era repression for 15 years on what he says are trumped-up charges.

Yuri Dmitriyev, 65, rose to prominence after uncovering mass graves of victims of repressions under Soviet leader Joseph Stalinist. He was detained on charges of sexually abusing his adopted daughter, which rights activists dismissed as fabricated and politically motivated.

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