Statement by International Memorial Society on the fine levied against Memorial Human Rights Centre: An absurd court judgment that must be overturned

posted 8 Sept 2015, 06:51 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 8 Sept 2015, 06:56 ]
7 September 2015

Source: (info
The board of the International Memorial Society has issued a statement regarding the absurd court judgement regarding the alleged infringement of the law by the Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow). 

On 4th September a court fined the Memorial Human Rights Centre for failing to comply with the “Law on Foreign Agents”. The “Law” obliges organizations included in the Ministry of Justice’s registry of “foreign agents” to refer to this status in all their publications. In our view such a demand is of itself quite amoral. Essentially it requires an organization to slander itself because the expression ‘”foreign agent” has, in Russian, a wholly negative connotation and means something like a “spy” or “saboteur”.

For not describing itself as a “foreign agent” in two instances the Memorial Human Rights Centre has received a fine of 600,000 rubles.

The absurdity of the situation consists in the fact that the Memorial Human Rights Centre was fined for two announcements of events (300,000 roubles for each), with which it had no involvement. Both events (involving academic papers, the first on the concept of “electronic democracy”, the second on German historical memory) were organized by a quite different organization – the International Memorial Society – and the announcements were published on the International Society’s website.

The Memorial Human Rights Centre usually publishes its materials on the same site, and the Human Rights Centre in no way objects to either of the two announcements, but the Centre is being fined for the publication of materials of the International Society, not those of the Centre.

The Memorial Human Rights Centre is a member of the International Memorial Society while remaining a wholly independent organization. Furthermore the International Memorial Society, which organized these events and publicized them, has never been recognized as an “agent” and, consequently, is under no obligation to label its publications with a special marker.

It would seem that the Ministry’s error is obvious. But both the ministry, and in turn Roskomnadzor, even after receiving a full explanation, are continuing to defend their clearly mistaken position, and the court, despite the presentation of the documents and witnesses’ statements, has taken their side.

The International Memorial Society has more than once stated its position regarding the “Law on Foreign Agents”. We remain convinced that this illegal and amoral law must be repealed. We register a protest against the absurd court judgment on the alleged infringement of law by the Memorial Human Rights Centre. We shall strive to achieve the overturn of this decision, that makes no sense from either a legal point of view or in common everyday logic.

The Board of the International Memorial Society

Translated by Mary McAuley