Right Livelihood condemns decisions to liquidate Memorial International and Memorial Human Rights Center

Right Livelihood is appalled at the decision taken by Russia’s Supreme Court to shut down Memorial International, 2004 Right Livelihood Laureate. Its human rights wing, Memorial Human Rights Center, was also liquidated today by Moscow’s City Court. We condemn in the strongest terms the court rulings, which are politically motivated and in breach of Russia’s obligations under international law.

On December 28, Memorial International was shut down for systematic non-compliance with the “Foreign Agents” law. According to the judge, the organisation failed to mark all its publications with the compulsory foreign agent label. On December 29, its member organisation Memorial Human Rights Center, which had additionally been accused of “supporting terrorist and extremist thoughts”, suffered the same fate.

The so-called “Foreign Agents” law has been used by the Russian authorities as a tool to target dissenting voices. Designed to crack down on civil society, its provisions have constantly been tightened and formulated throughout the years in such a way that it becomes impossible to fully comply with them. These court decisions set a very dangerous precedent for other organisations designated as foreign agents.

In November, we had expressed our deep concern at the unjustified prosecution of both Memorials and called on the Russian authorities to immediately halt the judicial harassment against the organisations. Today, more than ever, we urge them to comply with Russia’s international obligations and human rights commitments, not only by immediately reversing these disproportionate and appalling decisions, but also by repealing the “Foreign Agents” law.

Russia must allow both Memorials and all human rights organisations to carry out their work freely, without any impediments to the free exercise of their civil and political rights. A thriving and open civic space is an essential pillar of any democracy, and the dissolution of Memorial is a blatant attack on democratic values. The international community must act before the whole Russian civil society is wiped out.