Rights in Russia interview – with Nataliya Sekretareva, head of the legal team at Memorial Human Rights Defence Centre

Mary Page talks with Nataliya Sekretareva, a Russian human rights lawyer who works as head of the legal team at the Memorial Human Rights Defence Centre. Before that, Nataliya worked as a lawyer at the Memorial Human Rights Centre until its dissolution in April 2022. She has also worked with the Institute for Public Law and Policy, an NGO based in Moscow, the Moscow Helsinki Group and the Eurasia Partnership Foundation based in Armenia, Yerevan. She also interned with the UN Agency for the Refugees in Armenia. Nataliya is a graduate of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Faculty of Law and has an Advanced LLM in International Criminal Law from the University of Leiden in The Netherlands.

The interview was recorded on 7 July 2023


  • I mentioned in the introduction that you are a human rights lawyer. How did you come to take up this work? What inspired you?
  • You are currently head of the legal team at the Memorial Human Rights Defence Centre. You were previously a lawyer with the Memorial Human Rights Centre that was closed down in April 2022 (along with the International Memorial Society). Can you say a bit to clarify this network of Memorial organisations, old and new?
  • As we’ve said, in April last year, two Memorial organisations (Memorial Human Rights Centre and the International Memorial Society) were closed down by the Russian courts. What were the legal grounds for closing down these organisations? And was this in any sense a real judicial proceeding, or was it more a political decision?
  • What has happened to Memorial’s members since the organisations were closed down?
  • Can you tell us more about the charges of ‘rehabilitation of Nazism’ that have been brought against some former members of Memorial?
  • Currently Oleg Orlov, who used to be a leading member of Memorial Human Rights Centre, is on trial in Moscow. What are the charges against him?
  • What has happened in the trial proceedings so far?
  • What do you expect to be the outcome of the trial of Oleg Orlov?
  • The focus of the world is quite rightly currently on Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and all its horrific consequences. Do you see any positive developments within Russia in this very difficult and gloomy period?
  • How do you see the future for Russia’s human rights community – and the future of human rights in Russia in general?

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