Russia’s decision to shut down Memorial International resembles its totalitarian past

Press releases 29.12.2021

Editor’s Note: Updated to reflect court decision regarding the liquidation of member organisation Human Rights Center Memorial on Wednesday, December 29.

STOCKHOLM – Russian court decisions to shut down Memorial International, the country’s oldest and largest human rights organisation, and its member organisation Human Rights Center Memorial are an appalling affront to democratic values and mark a dangerous precedent for other civil society organisations.

Memorial, which received the Right Livelihood Award in 2004, is a stalwart of Russian civil society. Its politically-motivated closure handed down by Russia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday signals a dramatic turn for democracy and human rights in the country.

A day later, on Wednesday, its member organisation Human Rights Center Memorial, which is a preeminent civil society organisation protecting human rights in Russia, was also ordered to be liquidated by a court on bogus claims.

These decisions must be urgently reversed if Russia is to maintain a semblance of freedom and democracy.

“We stand by Memorial, which has courageously fought for democracy and human rights for decades – even in the face of growing authoritarianism in Russia. By preserving the memory of people victimised by the totalitarian Soviet regime and working to uphold human rights, Memorial paved the way for a free and democratic Russia. The decisions to liquidate Memorial and its member organisation are unconscionable and show the Russian government’s total disregard for democratic norms,” said Ole von Uexkull, Right Livelihood’s Executive Director.

Earlier in December, 27 Right Livelihood Laureates signed a petition calling on Russia to immediately halt the judicial harassment against Memorial.

Read more about the cases brought against Memorial and its Human Rights Center.

Memorial received the Right Livelihood Award “for showing, in traumatic times, the importance of understanding the historical roots of human rights abuse, to secure respect for them in the future.”

For interviews with Ole von Uexkull contact:
Nayla Azzinnari,, +54 9 11 5460 9860

About Right Livelihood
Established in 1980, Right Livelihood honours and supports courageous people solving global problems. Housed under the umbrella of a foundation, Right Livelihood is a courage-powered community for social change committed to peace, justice and sustainability for all.

Each year, Right Livelihood highlights change-makers through an Award. To date, 186 Laureates from 73 countries have received the distinction. By recognising the actions of brave visionaries and building impactful connections around the world, Right Livelihood boosts urgent and long-term social change.

However, the work of Right Livelihood goes beyond only presenting the Award: they provide these change-makers with life-long support. Right Livelihood is a megaphone and a shield for the Laureates: raising their profile, providing them protection when their lives and liberty are in danger, and educating people on their innovative solutions.

Right Livelihood is headquartered in Stockholm, with offices in Geneva and Zurich. The Foundation has consultative status at the United Nations.

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