Russian Court Shuts Down Memorial Human Rights Center

Another blow has been delivered to Russian civil society groups this week. A Moscow court ordered the Memorial Human Rights Center to close on Wednesday, charging the center with multiple violations.

The court claimed that the center violated the country’s “foreign agent” law, and said that its publications justified “terrorism and extremism.” 

This is the second blow this week to civil society groups in Russia. On Tuesday, Russia’s Supreme Court closed the center’s sister group, Memorial International. 

The Human Rights Center Memorial has assisted thousands of people over the past 30 years both home and abroad. It focuses on stopping oppression that happens in modern Russia. The Memorial International works to expose abuses and atrocities that occurred within the Stalin era.

Amnesty International labeled the closure of the two centers another blow in years of relentless attacks against Russia’s civil society movement. 

Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director Marie Struthers criticized the accusations and said the closure was heartless. She said that the charges were a sham and that they were merely a pretext for silencing dissent and stopping people from coming together in order to protect and defend human rights. 

Russia continues to hollow out its civil society organizations, which are dropping off in the country under Vladimir Putin’s rule. Activists, democracy advocates, and human rights groups are coming more and more under attack in the country in recent years. 

Experts worry that the closure of these centers is a warning of more closures and worse action to come against any groups that speak out against the Russian authorities. 

An open letter by human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, said it was urgent to protect the centers and ensure they can continue their crucial human rights work. 

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