16 November 2021
On the case being brought against Memorial* by the Office of the Prosecutor General
Established at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s with the aim both of preserving the memory of the victims of political repression under the Communist regime and of protecting the rights of our citizens today, Memorial is world renowned as Russia’s most authoritative civic organisation. Its founder and first chair was Academician Andrei D. Sakharov, the hundredth anniversary of whose birth the world has celebrated this year.
The lawsuit calling for the liquidation of Memorial, brought to the court by the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, can be interpreted both in Russia and abroad as nothing other than a landmark and milestone political action.
For a number of years, the work that we do has led us to cooperate closely with the members of Memorial. This collaboration has been constructive and fruitful. Memorial deserves huge credit for its role in establishing the national monument in memory of the victims of political repression in Moscow, in creating the national programme for schoolchildren, “The Individual in History,” and in tirelessly compiling lists of the martyrs in many regions of our country.
Any human activity can include mistakes. If mistakes are found in the work of Memorial, this deserves a mutually respectful discussion, not a demand for Memorial’s liquidation.
However, the case brought by the Prosecutor General’s Office is extraordinary (as the Presidential Human Rights Council has rightly stated). And “extraordinary” is one of the most dangerous and terrifying Soviet neologisms. If you let it spin, the wheel of “extraordinary measures” is the very “red wheel” that swept through our country like a rollercoaster in the last century. And it doesn’t matter what colour this wheel is. What is important is that it should not be allowed to start to move again in this century.
“Preserving the people” does not just mean their physical preservation, but also the preservation of the resources of the spirit. And this cannot be done without preserving an environment that permits independent public initiatives.
The closure of Memorial will cause direct and very serious damage to both society and the state.
(signed) Members of the board of the Memory Foundation (Фонд Памяти)
V. P. Lukin
N. D. Solzhenitsyna
* Memorial is an NGO recognised as a foreign agent.
Translated by Elizabeth Teague