By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
The decision to ban the Memorial Human Rights Center by the Moscow City Court comes after Russia’s Supreme Court revoked the legal status of its sister organization, Memorial.
Critics say that with the Orwellian moves resembling the Soviet-era, Russia’s judiciary effectively ended the activities of the country’s leading human rights groups.
Both Memorial organizations were already labeled “foreign agents” in previous years, a designation that brings with it additional government pressure.
The court agreed with prosecutors that Memorial “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 Memorial groups have denied the accusations as politically motivated and plan to appeal.
On Tuesday, trial observers shouted “shame!” when the first decision on Memorial was read out. An older man was among protestors violently removed by police outside the court.
Opposition politician Grigory Yavlinsky views the Court-ordered closure of Memorial underscores the rise in repression in modern-day Russia. “It is telling to us that Russia is moving from the authoritarian Putin system to some kind of post-modern totalitarian system in Russia,” he said in comments monitored by Worthy News.
“That [system] would be kind of a linkage with the Soviet regime and even partly to the Stalin regime. So it is a very dangerous development,” added Yavlinsky, a three-time former presidential candidate who now leads the Yabloko political party.
In recent days, 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.
The 65-year-old Yuri Dmitriyev rose to prominence after uncovering mass graves of victims of repressions under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
He was detained on charges of sexually abusing his adopted daughter, which rights activists dismissed as fabricated and politically motivated.
The reported crackdown comes amid the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Russia-dominated Soviet Union, an event that President Putin called “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe.”
Memorial’s own human rights wing lists more than 400 political prisoners. At the same time, independent groups and media are increasingly listed 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.
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