Statement by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group over the attack on “Memorial” in St Petersburg


On 4 December, at the decision of the City Prosecutor’s Office, a search was carried out of the research and information centre “Memorial” in St Petersburg. Men in masks burst into the premises and carried out a search in the course of which they removed computer disks containing unique databases about tens of thousands of victims of the Stalinist repressions painstakingly gathered over the entire territory of the former USSR. The disks also hold unique collections of photographic material and copies of documents on the Soviet terror, the results of searches to find camp graveyards of the GULAG, and interviews with former labour camp prisoners, many of whom are no longer alive.

The behaviour unprecedented in its flagrances from the legal point of view demonstrated by Russian state bodies against an authoritative international human rights organization fits unfortunately too well into the ever more apparent tendency of the state to fight Russian civil society and with the regrettable and ambitious plans to “modernize” its history.

At the same time more and more frequently one hears “rational” excuses for the behaviour of the Bolshevik and communist authorities which killed millions of innocent people. The Stalinist Terror, for example, is explained and justified through the successes of the industrialization of the country, and so forth. All of this can be viewed only as a serious intention of a huge federal state to return to the totalitarian thinking on a political level and to subject to revision the democratic achievements pf Gorbachev’s perestroika, to change the very style and manner of thinking of contemporary Russian society.

Aware of the full danger of the course chosen by the Russian authorities, we condemn their repressive actions and fully endorse the demands of our human rights colleagues in Russia and Belarus to put an immediate stop to the persecution of the research and information centre “Memorial” in St. Petersburg.

5 December 2008

Co-Chairs of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, Irina Rapp and Yevhen Zakharov

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