Memorial or Memorial Society (in Russian: Мемориал, Обществo Мемориал) is a Russian-based advocacy organization founded in the former Soviet Union. In 2009, he won the Sakharov Prize, founded by the European Parliament for the company's first president. On December 28, 2021, the Russian Supreme Court ordered the liquidation of the organization.
The organization announced its formation at a meeting held in January 1989 in Moscow with the participation of hundreds of people. It was established as a historical and educational society, the purpose of which was to support those convicted in the Soviet system for political reasons, to cultivate the memory of the victims, to uncover and expose the lawlessness committed in the past. Andrei Dmitrijevich Sakharov became the first president of the company. On the initiative and with the participation of Memorial, a law was passed in 1991 to rehabilitate those convicted for political reasons, an important step in the process of historic justice.
In one of the busiest areas of Moscow, where a statue of the founder of the Soviet internal affairs stood earlier, a stone was brought from the Solovetsky Islands and symbolized the Gulag camp system.
In 1992, after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the scope of the organization was extended to some successor states other than Russia, and its activities were extended to the protection of democratic and human rights.
Main forms of activity, organizations
The organization carries out regular fact-finding, advocacy, dissemination and charitable activities. He is researching the long-secret, not yet fully explored, history of the Gulag and the KGB and its predecessors. It compiles document collections, thematic libraries, publishes books, and operates an Internet portal to learn more about the lawlessness of the past.
In Russia and its successors, the company has a number of regional organizations and many local activists. It operates its own non-profit news agency (memo.ru), which strives for complete, reliable and unbiased information. Collects, analyzes and publishes documents on human rights violations, especially in conflict zones in former Soviet states such as the North Caucasus, and provides legal assistance to refugees and displaced persons. The head of the Memorial Advocacy Center is Oleg Petrovics Orlov.
The work of the organization is under constant threat at the beginning of the 21st century. In November 2007, Oleg Orlov, along with three journalists, was abducted, beaten, threatened with execution, and finally released.
In November 2008, police conducted a house search at Memorial’s St. Petersburg office, and authorities seized the organization’s digital archive. Following foreign protests and a decision by the local district court, the seized material was returned in May 2009.
In July 2009, Natalya Eszteremirova, a human rights activist at Memorial, was abducted in the Chechen capital and her body was found in Ingushetia. Eszteremirova collected evidence of kidnappings and murders in the North Caucasus. She was the first to receive the Anna Politkovskaya Prize, founded in memory of the journalist murdered in 2006. Chechen President Ramzan Kadirov has been blamed for the assassination of Estemirova by Oleg Orlov Memorial leader.
On December 28, 2021, the Russian Supreme Court ordered the liquidation of the organization.
The Memorial advocacy organization was listed in 2014 and the international Memorial in 2016 by non-profit organizations registered as foreign agents in Russia.