Liz Truss condemns closure of Russian human rights group

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A supporter of the Memorial human rights group stands waiting for Moscow City Court’s decision (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/PA) (AP)
A supporter of the Memorial human rights group stands waiting for Moscow City Court’s decision (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/PA) (AP)

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was “deeply concerned” about the closure of a human rights group in Russia.

The group Memorial, which has drawn international acclaim for its work on political repression, had its legal status revoked by the Russian supreme court.

Its sister organisation the Memorial Human Rights Centre was ordered to close by the Moscow City Court on Wednesday.

Ms Truss said the “liquidation” of Memorial by the courts was “another chilling blow to freedom of expression in Russia”.

“Memorial has worked tirelessly for decades to ensure abuses of the Soviet era are never forgotten,” she said.

The Russian authorities had declared both organisations were “foreign agents” and prosecutors alleged they had violated regulations obliging them to declare that designation in all the content they produce.

Supporters of the Memorial human rights group wearing face masks with the words “The Memorial cannot be banned!” gather in front of the Moscow Court (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/PA) (AP)
Supporters of the Memorial human rights group wearing face masks with the words “The Memorial cannot be banned!” gather in front of the Moscow Court (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/PA) (AP)

Alexander Cherkasov, board chairman of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, said the foreign agents law was “designed with the aim of strangling civil society” and “today, we received another proof of that”.

Crowds of supporters braved the bitter Moscow winter to protest outside the courts on Tuesday and Wednesday as they closed the organisations.

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