Russia shuts down oldest rights group –


A Moscow courtroom on Wednesday (25 January) ordered the closure of Russia’s oldest human rights organisation, the Moscow Helsinki Group, silencing one other revered establishment amid a political crackdown.

The decide of the Moscow Metropolis Courtroom granted a justice ministry request to “dissolve” the rights group, the courtroom stated in an announcement.

The Moscow Helsinki Group stated it might enchantment.

The choice is the newest in a sequence of authorized rulings in opposition to organisations essential of the Kremlin, a development that intensified after President Vladimir Putin despatched troops into Ukraine final 12 months.

The Moscow Helsinki Group was created in 1976 to watch Soviet authorities’ dedication to respect human rights and basic freedoms after the USSR signed on to a set of agreements on the final day of the Convention on Safety and Cooperation in Europe in 1975.

However members of the group had been jailed, harassed and expelled from the nation and the Moscow Helsinki Group needed to droop operations in 1982 below strain from Soviet authorities.

Its work was re-established by former political prisoners and rights activists in the course of the perestroika motion — a sequence of political and financial reforms — in 1989.

‘Life is lengthy’

The OSCE Workplace for Democratic Establishments and Human Rights (ODIHR) stated the ruling was “opposite to the commitments made by all OSCE international locations to respect the liberty to type and be a part of associations”.

ODIHR calls “on the Russian authorities to rethink and reverse the choice”, it stated in an announcement.

Roman Kiselyov, head of authorized programmes on the organisation, stated the Moscow Helsinki Group would proceed its work but it surely was unclear what type it might take.

“Human rights work and the motion is not going to finish there,” Kiselyov advised AFP.

“Choices concerning the future should be made, that’s for positive.”

Genri Reznik, a star lawyer who defended the organisation in courtroom, known as the justice ministry’s request to close down the group a “authorized shame”.

He expressed hope nonetheless that courts in Russia might evaluate the case sooner or later.

“Life is lengthy,” he advised reporters.

“Individuals will go, regimes will change.”

For twenty years, the organisation was headed by Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a Soviet-era dissident who turned an emblem of resistance in Russia and who died in 2018.

When Alexeyeva — the doyenne of Russia’s rights motion — celebrated her ninetieth birthday in 2017, Putin visited her at dwelling, bringing her flowers.

“I’m grateful to you for the whole lot that you’ve executed for an enormous variety of folks in our nation for a lot of, a few years,” Putin advised her on the time.

‘Destruction’ of symbols

The justice ministry had accused the rights group of breaching its authorized standing by finishing up actions akin to observing trials exterior Moscow.

Earlier than Putin despatched troops to Ukraine, Russia dissolved one other pillar of the nation’s rights motion, Memorial.

That group emerged as an emblem of hope throughout Russia’s chaotic transition to democracy within the early Nineteen Nineties and was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize lower than a 12 months after it was ordered to close down.

Pavel Chikov, a outstanding lawyer and activist, stated the dissolution of high rights teams was equal to the “destruction” of Russia’s mental and cultural establishments and symbols of “peace, progress, and human rights”.

EU international coverage chief Josep Borrell condemned the ruling, saying that Russian authorities had been suppressing voices “rejecting authoritarianism and struggle”.

“The Kremlin is extending its aggression in Ukraine into political repression at dwelling,” he stated.

The Russian authorities has been utilizing an array of legal guidelines to stifle critics of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, imposing jail phrases of as much as 15 years for spreading “false data” concerning the army, amongst different measures.

Russia’s high opposition politician Alexei Navalny is in jail and his political organisations have been declared extremist.

Most different key opposition figures are additionally both in jail or exiled.

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