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General Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders concerned by the possible closure of ‘Memorial’

Alexandra Louis (France, ALDE), the Parliamentary Assembly's General Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, has expressed her concern following the launch by the Russian Prosecutor’s office of proceedings aimed at closing down the human rights NGO “Memorial”.

“’Memorial’ is the oldest and largest human rights organisation in Russia, known worldwide for its courageous activists and serious research. A symbol of the power of democracy in Russia, ‘Memorial’ was founded in 1989 by, among others, Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov and the former member of our Assembly Sergei Kovalev.

The reason given by the Russian Prosecutor for this step – violations of the law on ‘foreign agents’ – is unacceptable. As the Assembly has said several times, referring in particular to the Venice Commission’s opinion, and as the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić has just reaffirmed, this law stigmatises NGOs and has a repressive impact on civil society in Russia.

The Council of Europe therefore calls on Russia to repeal this legislation. I hope that the Russian Supreme Court will not follow up on the Prosecutor's request, as it did in 2015 after an appeal by the Ministry of Justice.”