Statement on the searches of civil activists in Perm 

20 May 2023

Source: Perm Centre for Historical Memory

On 19 May 2023, law enforcement officials came to the apartments of our esteemed colleagues: Nadezhda Agisheva, Tatyana Margolina, Svetlana Makovetskaya, Igor Averkiev, Oksana Asaulenko, Sergei Maksimov, Tatyana Cherepanova and Vera Sedinina. The searches were carried out by FSB officers as part of a criminal case launched against the chair of Perm Memorial*, Robert Latypov, and the chair of the Centre for Historical Memory, Aleksandr Chernyshov, under the article of the Russian Criminal Code on ‘attempted smuggling of cultural property.’

We support our colleagues and speak out in defence of them. Despite past differences, we now stand in full solidarity with them. We are bitter, and it is painful for us that you and your families went through such a vile search procedure.

We declare that all of these people have nothing to do with the archives of Perm Memorial, which formally became an object of interest for law enforcement officials. This archive, in connection with which the suspicion of ‘smuggling’ arose, consists of several boxes of documents that one typically associates with the office work of a non-profit organisation previously liquidated by the authorities (meeting minutes, correspondence with government agencies, documents on charitable projects, etc.). Indeed, these are not historical documents about events that happened 80 years ago, such as archival and investigative files of victims of political repressions – Perm Memorial has never possessed anything of this nature, as such documents are stored in the Perm State Archives.

As has been repeatedly stated, Memorial’s archive in Perm was to be sent to our Moscow colleagues for an assessment with regard to which of the documents could be especially valuable for the history of the Memorial movement. Such transfers of the archive of a liquidated organisation are not illegal.

We believe that the brazen invasion by law enforcement officers of the homes of our comrades is a shameless attempt to curry favour with their bosses. It is a disregard for the rule of law and common sense, and an intimidation of civil activists in an effort to force them out of the country. All these actions clearly confirm that our country and compatriots are being led into the darkness of totalitarianism – with its arbitrary justice, ruthlessness and cynicism.

We wish our comrades the courage, strength and patience to survive this dark time.

  • Ivan Vasiliev,
  • Robert Latypov,
  • Andrey Suslov,
  • Alexey Kamensky,
  • Dmitry Okuntsev

*Perm Memorial was forcibly liquidated by the authorities in April 2022. The international civil society organization Memorial, an ‘international historical, educational, charitable and human rights society’ was liquidated by decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. Previously, it had been declared a “foreign agent” in Russia.

Translated by Tyler Langnendorfer

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