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Russian High Court Postpones Hearing On Rights Group's Fate

  • RFE/RL

Memorial is an umbrella organization consisting of more than 50 groups across Russia, including its famed Human Rights Center, as well as in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Georgia.

Memorial is an umbrella organization consisting of more than 50 groups across Russia, including its famed Human Rights Center, as well as in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Georgia.

Russia's Supreme Court has postponed a hearing on a government request to shut the human rights group Memorial until December 17, giving the prominent organization a glimmer of hope it may avoid closure.

The Justice Ministry brought the case against Memorial in October, claiming its charter did not conform to its activities, and the high court had scheduled a hearing on November 13.

But both Memorial and the Justice Ministry requested a postponement to give the group time to hold a conference it is planning on November 22-23.

Memorial rejects the government's claims but has said it will make adjustments to address them.

"We'll use the additional time to fix the problems the Justice Ministry has raised," said Oleg Orlov, a founding member of Memorial.

"If we have to busy ourselves with nonsense to survive, we'll busy ourselves with nonsense," he added.

Kremlin critics have called the suit against Memorial part of a campaign to silence dissent.

Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, the oldest human rights organization in Russia, expressed relief Memorial was not ordered closed at the November 13 hearing.

Alekseyeva said, "I hope that will be the end of the story: a conference will be held and the groundless requirements of the Justice Ministry will be fulfilled."

Memorial is an umbrella organization consisting of more than 50 groups across Russia, including its famed Human Rights Center, as well as in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Georgia.

Founded in Moscow in 1989 under the auspices of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, Memorial has led efforts to uncover communist-era rights repressions and fight rights abuses in modern-day Russia.

The U.S. Helsinki Commission, a U.S. government agency that monitors human rights abuses worldwide, says Moscow's attempt to liquidate Memorial is "an obvious attempt to silence the voice of its own conscience."

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, Interfax, and rapsinews.ru
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