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Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday began hearing a petition to shut down Memorial, one of the country’s oldest and most prominent human rights groups.

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

Several hours after the start of the hearing, the court decided to adjourn it until December 14.

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

The international human rights group has gained prominence for 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 label that involves additional government scrutiny and carries strong pejorative overtones that may discredit the targeted organization. Prosecutors allege that the group has repeatedly violated regulations requiring it to present itself as a “foreign agent” and attempted to cover up the designation.

Memorial and his supporters argued the charges were politically motivated.

As a hearing on the petition to shut down Memorial began Thursday, large crowds gathered outside the Supreme Court building to show their support for the organization.

At least three people were reportedly arrested, including two elderly women holding banners which read “Thank you, Memorial, for remembering us” and “You cannot kill the memory of the people”.

Oleg Orlov, chairman of Memorial, said on Thursday that the group would appeal the decision, if the court decides to shut it down, and will continue to operate. “

We will appeal up to the level of the European Court, and we will continue to work one way or another. It may not be in the international memorial that is being liquidated, but we also have the Moscow memorial and many memorials in the regions of Russia – until they are liquidated, ”he said. he declared.

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

At least two have disbanded to avoid more severe repression.


euronews Gt

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