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Russian justice dissolves oldest human rights NGO

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Russian justice announced on Wednesday the dissolution of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Created in 1976, the human rights NGO was one of the oldest in the country.

A Russian court on Wednesday (January 25th) ordered the dissolution of the Moscow Helsinki Group, the oldest human rights NGO in Russia, in the midst of a crackdown on the last major critical voices in the country.

The Moscow City Court “satisfied the request of the (…) Russian Ministry of Justice” by ordering the dissolution of this NGO and its withdrawal from the official register of legal persons, the court said in a statement on Telegram .

At the end of December, the Moscow department of the Ministry of Justice filed a request asking to “dissolve the Moscow Helsinki Group and prohibit its activities on Russian territory”.

The NGO has been accused of carrying out activities outside the Moscow region, in violation of its regional status, including sending observers to trials or its members to events in other parts of the country . The NGO’s lawyers immediately announced their intention to appeal the dissolution.

The NGO appeals

“Life is long, any decision could be revised and I hope to live until the day when the Moscow Helsinki Group will be reborn,” said lawyer Genri Reznik, quoted by the Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

The Moscow Helsinki Group was created in 1976 to ensure compliance by the USSR with its human rights commitments, made in the Helsinki Final Act in 1975 at the end of the Conference on Security and cooperation in Europe.

The NGO is therefore the oldest and one of the most emblematic organizations for the defense of human rights in Russia. It was led for decades by Lioudmila Alexeeva, a figure of Soviet dissent who died in 2018.

The procedure targeting the Moscow Helsinki Group is reminiscent of the one that led last winter to the dissolution of the Memorial NGO, another pillar of the defense of human rights and the memory of victims of Soviet crimes.

In recent months, the regime of Vladimir Putin has accelerated the crackdown on its critics, in the wake of the Kremlin offensive in Ukraine.

The authorities have thus introduced a law providing for up to 15 years in prison for any publication of information on the Russian army deemed “false”. Most opposition figures are now in exile or in prison.

With AFP

France 24-Trans

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