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Russian court orders oldest civil rights group Memorial to shut

Russia’s Supreme Court has ordered the International Memorial to end its activism and shut down its operations. International Memorial is Russia’s oldest human rights group and has worked to recover the memory of millions of innocent people who were executed, imprisoned, or persecuted during the Soviet era. According to Russian officials, the organization has been liquidated for failing to mark a number of social media posts with its official status as a “foreign agent,” a designation given to the group after it received funding from abroad.

In court, the prosecutor allegedly labelled International Memorial a public threat, accusing the group of catering to Western agendas and focusing attention on Soviet crimes. Memorial was founded in 1989 and became a symbol of the country’s willingness to examine the past and open up to the world. Its forced closure marks the country’s development under President Vladimir Putin. The ruling also shines a light on the rise in repression occurring in modern-day Russia. According to Memorial, there are currently more than 400 political prisoners in Russia as well as independent groups and media falsely blacklisted as foreign agents.

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