Court Shuts Down Another Human Rights Group in Russia

( )- A Moscow court just shut down a major human rights organization. It comes amidst a wider crackdown on human rights, independent media, and supporters of President Vladimir Putin’s opposition in the former Soviet country.

The Memorial Human Rights Center was shut down by the Moscow City Court only a day after the Russian Supreme Court revoked the legal status of Memoria, its sister organization, which campaigns on various international human rights matters. The organization is best known for its study of the political repression and human rights abuses that took place during the Soviet Union.

It’s almost as if the Soviet Union isn’t really over.

The Russian government has labeled both organizations as “foreign agents” previously, which meant that the groups were subject to scrutiny from the national government and were sidelined and smeared by major national organizations and Russian media. Last month, the Russian government took the next step to get the organizations shut down in the country, filing petitions in two different courts. Federal prosecutors said that the groups did not comply with rules relating to their official designation as “foreign agents.”

In other words, the Russian government forced the groups to comply with a range of increasingly complex rules after being wrongly labeled foreign agents, and petitioned to shut the groups down the moment they couldn’t fully comply.

Various other human rights groups have been placed under similar pressure in recent years, including media outlets and even individual journalists and reporters. Some groups and individuals were designated as “undesirable,” which means the groups or individuals cannot operate in Russia at all, while others were vaguely accused of having connections to “undesirable” groups.

Both Memorial groups have said that they will appeal the rulings and have refused to shut down.