Statement by Council of Human Rights Defenders: 'We are Memorial'

posted 16 Nov 2015, 02:35 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Nov 2015, 09:36 ]
10 November 2015

Source: (info
We are Memorial

On the basis of an inspection the Ministry of Justice has brought a number of political charges against Memorial Human Rights Centre: "By their actions Memorial Human Rights Centre has undermined the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, calling for the overthrow of the current authorities and a change of the political regime in the country."

The ruling by the Ministry describes how the activities of Memorial Human Rights Centre undermine the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation. To be exact, “Memorial expresses disagreement with the decisions and activities of government bodies, with the results of preliminary investigations and court judgments in high-profile criminal cases.”

The ruling cites three examples of “undermining activities” allegedly carried out by Memorial Human Rights Centre: their assessment of Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine, the opinion of the organisation’s leadership on the issue of Russia’s military involvement in the east of Ukraine, and their disagreement with what they consider to be unlawful convictions in the “Bolotnaya Case”.

The accusations levelled against Memorial are unprecedented.

We, members of the Human Rights Council, Russian human rights defenders, declare:

1) We share the view of Memorial Human Rights Centre regarding all the points referred to in the Justice Ministry’s ruling: Russia’s policies in relation to Ukraine are aggressive in nature and contravene international laws; Russian military service personnel have participated in military action in the east of Ukraine; the “Bolotnaya Case” was fabricated, and the resulting convictions unlawful.

2) We consider it to be the duty of human rights defenders to point out violations of national and international law by government bodies of every level and to work for the observance of legal norms.

3) We consider it to be the duty of human rights defenders, where national laws are of an inhumane character, to point out this fact and to work against the adoption of such laws.

4) The activity of the human rights defenders is protected by Russian legislation and international treaties ratified by the Russian Federation.

We call on governmental human rights institutions – the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, the Presidential Human Rights Council - to immediately respond to the accusations made against Memorial Human Rights Centre.

We demand that the Ministry of Justice immediately withdraws the accusations in question and issues an apology to Memorial Human Rights Centre.

Members of the Human Rights Council:

L.M. Alekseeva
V.V. Borshchev
Yu. I. Vdovin
I.A. Kalyapin
G.A. Melkonyants
L.A. Ponomarev
N.E. Taubina
L.V. Shibanova

Those wishing to add their signatures to the declaration in support of Memorial Human Rights Centre can do so on the website of Lev Ponomarev or on that of

Translated by Kate Goodby