Thursday, December 30, 2021

Memorializing Memorial

 On Tuesday, the Russian Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of the International Memorial Foundation, the oldest human rights group in Russia, founded in the final years of the Soviet regime by Andrei Sakharov, to investigate crimes carried out by the Stalin regime. They were officially labeled a "foreign agent" in 2016. They are being dissolved for sllegedly failing to follow through on the many requirements that an organization labeled that is supposed to do.

On Wednesday a lower court in Moscow ordered the dissolution of its companion group, the Memorial Human Rights Center. That will go to appeal, so may be awhile before the final order for its dissolution comes. But that looks pretty inevitable.  It was actually labeled a foreign agent  in 2014, but it is being banned as a supposed terrorist organization. It supports current victims of political oppression, with somewhat over 400 people on its current list.  Several of those have been labeled as "terrorists," so supporting them supposedly makes this branch of Memorial a terrorist organization.

A major question arising from these decisions, which have brought a storm of protest from human rights organizations around the world, such as Amnesty International, is what will happen to the unique set of records and data these groups, especially the first, have gathered.  These include the personal records of over 60,000 victims, as well as data on 3 million victims, as well as details about the gulag camps.  Perhaps more telling is that there are also records on 42,000 people who secretly helped the Stalin regime engage in their activities.  Reportedly the current government does not want those names publicized.  This really says a lot about this decision and what is going on there more generally right now.

At least for the moment it does not look like Russia will invade Ukraine.

Snovem godem (happy new year in Russian), you all.

Barkley Rosser

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