The Moscow City Court ruled to liquidate the Memorial Human Rights Center. The reason was the accusation of violating the law on “foreign agents” and “justification of terrorism.”
The lawyers will appeal the decision, said lawyer Maria Eismont, who represents Memorial’s interests.
Earlier, at the trial on the claim of the prosecutor’s office on the liquidation of the human rights center Memorial, a debate of the parties took place. The journalists were not allowed into the meeting room. They watched what was happening from the neighboring building of the Moscow City Court, where the broadcasting hall was equipped. In court, this was explained by the need to comply with anti-coronavirus restrictions.
The meeting was addressed by the chairman of the council of the human rights center, Alexander Cherkasov, who statedthat the prosecutor’s office has finally set out the true motives of the claims against the organization. According to him, by closing human rights organizations, the state is trying to “break the red flashing light that signals that something is wrong, and not solve the problem itself.”
Memorial lawyer Grigory Vaipan said the accusation was exactly the same as the accusations against Soviet dissidents. The lawyer quoted the verdict against the Soviet human rights activist Sergei Kovalev: “slanderously reflects the legitimate actions of Soviet law enforcement agencies.” He suggested comparing the quotes from the sentences with the wording from the lawsuit and stated that these persecutions had already been recognized as political repressions.
The prosecutor also accused the human rights center of participation in “protest movements”. According to him, the center “demonstrates a steady disregard for the Constitution of the Russian Federation and laws, violates the rights of citizens and the right to access information.” The lists of political prisoners maintained by the organization “are aimed at creating a negative perception of the Russian judicial system,” and Memorial’s “support” for the protests is at “destabilizing” the situation in the country, he said.
The Moscow prosecutor’s office demands to close the human rights center due to violations of the law on foreign agents. In addition, a representative of the department during one of the previous meetings spoke about the existence of justification of terrorism and extremism in the actions of human rights defenders. At the Memorial itself, the claim is rejected. Russian authorities consider the human rights center a foreign agent
At one of the previous meetings, the prosecutor said that the human rights center had grossly and repeatedly violated the law, interfered with the protection of the health and well-being of citizens, and it was necessary to liquidate it to protect their rights. In addition, according to the prosecutor, “the formation of a negative image of the state and the lack of labeling [иноагента] can cause, among other things, a depressive state among citizens ”.
All that the human rights center is formally accused of are several cases where the label about “foreign agency” was not affixed. Memorial has already been fined hundreds of thousands of rubles for these cases.
One of the most serious claims against Memorial is that the center recognizes as political prisoners those whom the court recognized as “extremists” and “terrorists”. The list of political prisoners recognized by Memorial includes members of the Artpodgotovka movement, Jehovah’s Witnesses, supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir. The prosecution believes that this is how human rights defenders justify extremism and terrorism.