Russia’s Constitutional Court has ruled that Memorial, one of the country’s oldest and leading human rights organizations, should be banned.
According to Russian media, the decision was cited as a violation of the organization’s law requiring Memorialto be registered as a “foreign lobby.”
Memorial was recognized by the Russian government as a “foreign lobby” in 2015.
With this decision, the activities of the human rights organization in the country were limited.
Last month, legal action was launched against the organization, citing its lack of fulfillment of the requirements of the definition of “foreign lobby”.
In Russia, opponents say the “Foreign lobbying law” is used by authorities to target human rights organizations, independent journalists and activists.
At today’s sentencing hearing, the prosecutor claimed memorial was trying to discredit state officials by organizing large-scale media campaigns.
Grigory Vaipan, a lawyer for Memorial, said in his defense that the human rights organization is doing everything it can to comply with the law.
Speaking to Russia’s Interfax News agency after the court’s decision, a Memorial lawyer argued that the decision was made for political reasons and said they would appeal and take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
Founded by a group of dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize-winning scientist Andrey Saharov, Memorial fought specifically for the documentation of Stalin-era crimes.
Among the state institutions that Memorial fought was the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (KGB), where President Vladimir Putin has worked as an agent in the past.
The human rights organization has recently been vocal in its opposition to pressure from critics of the Putin administration.
Putin said this month that Memorial was defending organizations russia considers “terrorists” and that those he said had been victims of political repression in the past included those who collaborated with the Nazis.