Russia Raids Nobel Prize-Winning Group
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Russian security forces targeted nine leaders of one of Russia’s oldest human rights groups, Memorial, in raids on their homes, activists said Tuesday.
The raids took 15 months after the courts shut down Nobel Peace Prize-winning Memorial in what critics viewed as politically motivated moves by Moscow to silence dissent.
Tuesday’s raids were carried out following accusations by Russian investigators that the group allegedly included names of World War II-era Nazi collaborators on its list of historical victims of political terror.
Police confiscated items and equipment carrying the Memorial logo and took some of its employees in for interrogation, the group recalled.
Memorial, which has denied wrongdoing, said, “searches of some of the employees are continuing — lawyers are not allowed to see them.”
Memorial chairperson Yan Rachinsky, who collected the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the group last year, was also subject to a raid on his home, the group said. Among others targeted was Memorial’s co-chair, Oleg Orlov, who faces a criminal case for “discrediting” the military.
Observers say the offense of “discrediting the military” has been used repeatedly to give long jail terms to Russians who criticize the war, including opposition figure Ilya Yashin and Moscow councilor Alexei Gorinov.
Last week the former mayor of Yekaterinburg, Yevgeny Roizman, was jailed for two weeks for posting “extremist” symbols on social media, which he denied.
Tuesday’s raids were condemned by rights groups internationally, including Amnesty International, as well as what remains of Russia’s domestic opposition.
“By raiding the homes of members of Memorial, the Russian authorities are continuing their witch hunt against human rights defenders and activists,” Amnesty International’s Russia Director Natalia Zviagina added in a statement.
Liberal Russian media viewed the searches as part of “a new crackdown” by authorities on dissent at a time of setbacks by Moscow’s forces in wartorn Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who oversees the over-a-year-long invasion of Ukraine, has accused the West of seeking to provoke civil unrest by using “a fifth column of scum and traitors,” including rights groups.
Founded in 1989, Memorial has aimed to remember millions of innocent people persecuted by Soviet repression till the collapse of the Moscow-led Soviet Union.
The group later continued its operations in the region, including in Russia. But Memorial was officially banned in late 2021 after authorities claimed it supported terrorism and extremism. Memorial vehemently denied the “absurd” charges.
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