The Russian authorities have carried out mass raids and searches of the office of the Memorial Society and its members, writes Halya Coynash on the website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG).
Orlov protest in central Moscow (2022)
“A crazed Putin is pushing the world towards nuclear war”
Veteran activist and Memorial co-chairman Oleg ORLOV now faces criminal charges and a likely term of imprisonment for supposedly ‘discrediting’ the Russian armed forces. The move comes a little over a year after Russia forcibly dissolved International Memorial and the Memorial Human Rights Centre, and almost exactly three months after Memorial, together with Ukraine’s Centre for Civil Liberties and the Belarusian Viasna Human Rights Centre (and its leader Ales Bialiatski), became laureate of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.
The pretext for the heavy-handed methods used on 21 March was a criminal investigation initiated on 3 March 2023 over alleged ‘rehabilitation of Nazism’. This was supposedly based on a complaint from the Veterans of Russia NGO which claimed to have found around twenty names of those convicted of collaborating with Nazi Germany on Memorial’s massive “List of the Victims of Political Terror in the USSR”.
The current regime is using this charge in an attempt to discredit the internationally respected Memorial and the vital work it has done in studying the Soviet Terror and naming both its victims and the perpetrators. Although the offensive against Memorial began shortly before Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 and was doubtless prompted in part by Memorial’s stand on Russia’s aggression, the first complaints about names on the “List of Victims” came in //2021, around the time that the regime was seeking the organization’s dissolution. In December 2021, Memorial reacted to complaints, echoed by Russian leader Vladimir Putin, about three people on the List, by saying that the three had been removed. In a list containing over three million names, Memorial pointed out, mistakes of this nature were surely inevitable. The same clearly applies now.
Russia’s attack on historians of the Terror, and particularly Yury DMITRIEV, head of the Karelian branch of Memorial, used scurrilous and entirely fabricated ‘child pornography’ charges to try to discredit both Dmitriev and Memorial. The same method is now being used with this ‘rehabilitation of Nazism’ case, and the high-profile searches of a large number of members of Memorial.Continue reading