On 28 December 2021 Russia’s Supreme Court ruled to close International Memorial.
The lawsuit, filed by the Prosecutor General’s Office, referred to a missing ‘foreign agent’ designation on some of the materials produced by International Memorial. This is only a formal pretext, though, and the court hearings showed that these allegations were groundless.
It was today when the real reason was revealed in the court. Prosecutor General’s Office representatives have stated that we are treating Russia’s Soviet-period history in a wrong way, ‘creating a falsified image of the USSR as a terrorist state’ and ‘levelling criticism against the state authorities.’ It appears that our opponents see the state as being exempt from all criticism.
The decision of the Supreme Court has confirmed once again that the history of political terror organised and driven by the state has not remained a matter of a purely academic interest in Russia. Instead, it is a heated issue of immediate concern. Our country needs to make sense, in an honest and fair manner, of its Soviet past; this is a necessary requirement for Russia’ s future. It seems absurd to believe that the shutdown of International Memorial removes this issue from the agenda. Memory of the tragedies of the past is necessary for the entire society in Russia and beyond. Remembrance of state terror unites all the former Soviet republics.
We will certainly appeal against the Supreme Court decision using all means available to us. We will also find legal ways of continuing our work. Memorial is more than an organisation, even more than a just public movement. Memorial is the need felt by Russians to know the truth about our country’s tragic past and the fate of millions of victims. There is no-one who is capable of liquidating that need.