The appeal submitted against the December 2021 ruling by Russia’s Supreme Court was turned down on Monday morning, 28 February 2022, in Moscow. A panel of judges heard the arguments of Memorial’s lawyers supported and led by the famous defence attorney Genry Reznik against the organisation’s closure.
First, the Memorial defence team petitioned for the hearing to be postponed, in view of the invocation of Rule 39 by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The petition was rejected.
Defence lawyers Maria Eismont, Anastasia Garina, Natalya Morozova, Natalia Sekretaryova and, finally, Genry Reznik then argued that the punishment of closure after over 30 years of existence was quite disproportionate to the poorly-defined offence of not indicating the organisation’s “foreign agent” status on all its output.
Further disputes concerned the status of Memorial as an international organisation with branches in other countries, the shifting definition of its supposed offences and, quoting the prosecutor’s words from the final hearing in December, the defence suggested that the true reason for closing Memorial was that in recording and publicising the crimes of the Soviet era the organisation had portrayed the USSR as a “terrorist State”.
Memorial chairman Jan Raczynski and the organisation’s executive director Yelena Zhemkova also spoke at the hearing. Only 11 people were admitted to the courtroom.
Outside the courthouse old and young supporters of Memorial and its activities spoke of their admiration for an organisation that all agreed was very much needed in Russia.
Some, including Memorial board member Oleg Orlov, repeated words spoken earlier (for example in a defiant letter from Yury DMITRIEV in prison), that Memorial and those involved in its activities would find ways to continue their work whatever the courts decided.