Moscow court on Friday ordered the confiscation of the Moscow headquarters of the Russian rights group Memorial, which was ordered to close last year, Russian news agencies reported.
The decision came hours after Russia’s most respected human rights group was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
The Tver District Court ordered the confiscation of the group’s headquarters in Moscow “in favor of the state,” Interfax news agency reported.
representative of the General Prosecutor’s Office accused the Memorial in court of “rehabilitating Nazi criminals, discrediting the authorities and creating a false image of the USSR”
Russian authorities have portrayed Memorial as a group that blackens the country’s past.
Speaking to reporters after the court hearing, Memorial chief Jan Rachinski and spokesman Oleg Orlov said that while the Nobel Peace Prize was an important recognition, it would not “protect” them from the authorities.
“Will it help reduce the pressure on us?” I’m afraid not”, noted O. Orlov.
According to him, “it didn’t help” other Nobel laureates in Russia: neither Andrei Sakharov, the dissident scientist who helped found Memorial and was arrested after he had already been awarded the Nobel Prize, nor Dmitry Muratov, whose independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta was forced to suspend his activities in Russia after he had already won the prize.
“The bonus gives us the opportunity to work, but it does not protect us,” said O. Orlovas.
Since its founding in 1989, the Memorial has tirelessly documented the crimes of the Soviet government against its people and has amassed a huge historical archive.
“Memorial” received the Nobel Peace Prize together with the imprisoned Belarusian activist Alesius Bialiacki and the Kyiv-based Center for Civil Liberties.