The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded, besides the Ukrainian NGO Center for Civil Liberties and the Belarusian political prisoner Ales Bialiatski, to the Russian human rights organization Memorial. What is known about it?
What is Memorial doing and what does it have to do with Sakharov?
Before the Nobel Peace Prize, Memorial had already received the Sakharov Prize in 2009. What exactly does the organization do?
Memorial is a historical, educational, human rights, and charitable society, established in Moscow on January 28, 1989. One of the most active founders of the organization was academician and dissident Andrei Sakharov.
The Russian Memorial is only a part of the International Memorial, which includes dozens of legal entities in Russia and abroad, for example, in France, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, and Belgium. There are also four Memorials in Ukraine.
The society was engaged in the preservation of memory about political repressions in the USSR and human rights advocacy.
Burial of victims of Stalin's repressions and prison camps in Kolyma
At one time, representatives of "Memorial" discovered large burials of victims of Stalin's repressions. Among them are Sandormokh in Karelia and Dubivka in the Voronezh region.
In addition, the society launched expeditions to study the closed prison camps in Kolyma and worked in the archives of political prison camps and prisons of the 1960–1980s.
The society was also engaged in research, education, and human rights advocacy: it created museum collections, electronic libraries, document catalogs, etc.
The goals of the organization included the development of civil society and democracy, overcoming totalitarian stereotypes, asserting human rights, and restoring historical truth.
Ban in Russia due to the "false image of the USSR"
In 2012, Memorial was declared a foreign agent in Russia and officially liquidated by a decree of a Russian court on December 28, 2021.
The Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation, in particular, accused the organization of violating the law on foreign agents, but the court could not close or liquidate the society's foreign representative offices.
As the Russian prosecutor Aleksey Zhafyarov explained, Memorial was guilty of "forcing to repent for the Soviet past", whitewashing the Nazis, distorting the memory of the "Great Patriotic War", and creating a "false image of the USSR" as a terrorist state.