A memorial: a Russian court hears a petition to shut down a famous human rights organization

On Thursday, Russia’s Supreme Court began hearing a petition to close down the “Memorial” organization, one of the oldest and most prominent human rights groups in the country.

The move sparked public anger amid a months-long crackdown on activists, independent media and opposition supporters.

After several hours of the hearing, the court decided to postpone until December 14.

Earlier this month, the attorney general’s office petitioned the Supreme Court to revoke Memorial’s legal status.

The International Human Rights Group rose to prominence due to its studies of political repression in the Soviet Union and currently includes more than 50 smaller groups in Russia and abroad.

Memorial was declared a “foreign agent” in 2016 – a designation that carries additional government scrutiny and carries strong connotations of disdain that can tarnish the reputation of the target organization. Prosecutors allege that the group repeatedly violated regulations requiring it to designate itself as a “foreign agent” and attempted to conceal the designation.

Memorial and his supporters emphasized that the accusations were politically motivated.

As the hearing on the petition to close the Memorial began on Thursday, large crowds gathered in front of the Supreme Court building to show support for the organization.

At least three people were reportedly arrested – including two older women holding signs that read “Thank you, Memorial, for remembering us” and “You can’t kill people’s memory”.

Oleg Orlov, president of Memorial, said Thursday that the group would appeal the ruling, if a court decided to close it, and would continue to operate. “

We will appeal to the European Court and we will continue to work one way or another. Inside the International Monument may not be potentially liquidated, but we also have the Moscow Monument and many memorials in regions of Russia – until liquidated.

In recent months, the Russian government has designated a number of independent media, journalists and human rights groups as “foreign agents.”

At least two were resolved to avoid a tougher crackdown.

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