‘The Moscow Helsinki Group was, is and will be!’

26 December 2022

Statement by the Moscow Helsinki Group on the threat to close down the organisation

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group

On 14 December this year the Ministry of Justice’s department for Moscow filed a lawsuit with Moscow City Court demanding that the Moscow Helsinki Group be closed down and its activities banned in Russia. The Moscow Helsinki Group was notified of this only on 20 December. The disproportionate nature of such a serious measure as the closure of the organisation is shown by the list of essentially insignificant alleged violations by the Moscow Helsinki Group that are contained in the Ministry of Justice’s suit. The main allegation is that the Moscow Helsinki Group engages in activities outside the city of Moscow where it is registered. Examples of such activities include observation of trials, appeals to regional authorities and also participation in events (including online events) held by the organisation’s regional partners.

The Ministry of Justice underlines in its lawsuit that the closing down of the Moscow Helsinki Group as a legal entity will also mean a ban on the group’s activities, irrespective of its state registration. In other words, the name of the Moscow Helsinki Group and its abbreviation (MHG) must completely disappear from the public realm. This alone, in addition to the insignificance of the charges brought against the Moscow Helsinki Group, shows that the reasons for closing down the group are in no way based in law and, furthermore, that the demand to shutter the organisation was issued from ‘on high’ to the justice department and is an act of political repression and persecution for human rights activities, just as happened earlier with the Memorial Society, the For Human Rights movement and many other actively working human rights organizations.

From 1976 to 1982 the Moscow Helsinki Group worked without any state registration and its importance was enormous. In 1982 the Moscow Helsinki Group ceased its activities only as a result of the arrest of a majority of its members and it was refounded in 1989 after the situation in the country changed. The systemic human rights activities of the Moscow Helsinki Group in the new Russia are well known, and these activities are becoming ever more necessary in the context of the growing persecution of expressions of dissent. We declare that the Moscow Helsinki Group was, is, and will be –  regardless of the wishes of the authorities!

Translated by Simon Cosgrove

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