20 November 2021
by Natan Sharansky. Natan Sharansky is a former Soviet dissident and political prisoner who spent nine years (1977-1986) in prison in the USSR. In 1976, he was one of the founders of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Today he is a well-known Israeli statesman and public figure.
To: Tatyana Moskalkova, Ombudsman for Human Rights of the Russian Federation
19 November 2021
Dear Tatyana Nikolaevna,
I, Natan Sharansky, am a former human rights defender and political prisoner in the USSR. I then worked for many years, in my capacity as a politician and public figure in Israel, to establish relations with the New Russia.
I was shocked to learn that the authorities intend to liquidate Memorial and confiscate its archives.
Ever since the Memorial Centre was first set up, it has been the main source of information about the crimes of the totalitarian Soviet regime throughout its existence. The history of the millions of victims of Soviet repression is still far from being fully told. And studying the means of persecution remains important today in order to combat repressive regimes, as well as to understand modern history and politics. I had the honour to be a comrade-in-arms and sometimes a cellmate of several of the founders of Memorial. I am also familiar with the new generation of their offspring who work for this organization today, inspired by the importance of Memorial’s activities not only for Russia, but for the world as a whole.
Memorial’s archives, which number many thousands of unique documents and items of evidence, are equivalent in their value to a museum. Many emigrés from the former Soviet Union who now live in Israel and other countries turn to Memorial’s archives in order to research their family and personal histories, and the repressions suffered by innocent victims.
I very much hope that you, as the Ombudsman for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, will use your influence to prevent the liquidation of such an important organization and to halt this process.
* “Memorial” is an NGO recognised as a foreign agent
Translated by Elizabeth Teague