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Russian Court Rejects Bid To Close Rights Group Memorial

Aleksandr Cherkasov (L), head of Russian human rights group Memorial, attending a court hearing in Moscow last year.

The Russian Supreme Court has rejected the Justice Ministry's request for the closure of Memorial, one of the country's most respected human rights groups.

Closing Memorial, whose strong reputation and dogged advocacy has made it a thorn in the side of President Vladimir Putin's government, would have been certain to prompt powerful criticism from the West and Kremlin opponents at home.

"The court has decided to leave the Justice Ministry's complaint without satisfaction," a judge said at the hearing on January 28.

The ministry filed a complaint against Memorial in October, claiming its charter did not correspond with its activities and citing other alleged infractions.

Government critics said the suit was an effort to silence a widely respected group that has fought for human rights, freedom, justice, and a reckoning with the crimes of the Soviet era since 1989.

At the hearing on January 28, which followed two postponements, the ministry said Memorial had corrected the alleged infractions that were the grounds for the suit but did not withdraw the complaint.

Legal experts and government critics say court decisions in high-profile cases are often dictated by the Kremlin.

Based on reporting by and Ekho Moskvy